ROSELLAS; AN AUSTRALIAN VIEWPOINT: the Blue Roselka Platycercus adscitus (Latham)



The Blue-cheeked Rosella

Platycercus adscitus adscitus is the nominate subspecies of the Blue Rosella; usually two subspecies are recognized in Australian ornithology and aviculture, they being:

l] the Blue-cheeked Rosella P. a. adscitus, and,

2] the Pale-headed Rosella P. a. palticeps.

Both races, together with the race P.

a. amathusiae, are the usually recognized forms of the Blue Rosella. Although debate will, no doubt, continue in Australian ornithological circles about whether there are two or three subspecies of this beautiful rosella, the fact remains that each race (either two or three) will continue to excite aviculturists in my home country of Australia.

Although the Blue-cheeked Rosella is highly prized as an aviary bird in Australia the Paleheaded Rosella is the "blue species" more commonly kept in Australian aviculture. Depending which part of Australia you are visiting, or the person to whom you are speaking, this softly colored-and strikingly colored-rosella is also known as Mealy Rosella, White-headed Rosella, Moreton Bay Rosella or Blue Rosella.


As written descriptions of aviary birds can make for rather "dull" reading I am relying on the Watchbird staff to provide appropriate color photographs to accompany my article in this special "Rosella Series," however, the enthusiast (i.e, purist) is directed to


the excellent word-by-word descriptions in two excellent books on Australian parrots: Australian Parrots by Joseph Forshaw and Australian Parrots: A Field and Aviary Study by Barty Hutchins and (the late) Bob Lovell.

The Pale-headed Rosella is a beautifully marked bird with a rich cream to golden head that merges into a black with gold edged feathered back, while the front and underwings are a violet/mid-blue to the secondary flights where both secondary and primary flights become black/blue in the adult bird, the female having a whitish understripe in the mature bird; underwing coverts violet-blue; the feathers of the neck and mantle and upper back are black.


In both species females are slightly smaller in body size and paler than their respective males. The hen has a narrower head and narrower upper mandible when compared to the male's head and bill.

Distribution in the Wild

The Blue-cheeked Rosella inhabits the northern most areas of Cape York Peninsula which covers approximately 450 miles from the northern-most tip of Australia, almost to Townsville, whereas the Pale-headed Rosella is found from that area some 500 miles to the border of Queensland and New South Wales. The two species cohabit in the northern part of their total range where there is some hybridization as they are sympatric.


The (total) designated area of Australia where these birds reside in the wild is in Queensland, from the border between Queensland and New South Wales to Cape York that area as illustrated on the map covering the mountainous parts of that state, a strip some 2,000 miles long and covering 300-400 miles inland. Below that area is where there has been interbreeding of this species with the Eastern Rosella Platycercus eximus eximus, which has resulted in the evolution of the Golden-mantled Rosella P. e. cecilae - but that's another story for another day.

Of Academic Interest Only

Although the Commonwealth Government of Australia bans the export of any native Australian bird to any other country, I thought American readers of Watchbird may be interested in the current price per pair of the two races of the Blue Rosella kept in Australian aviculture. The Avicultural Society of Australia (of which I am an active member) publishes a annual "Guide to Bird Prices" list in October each year in its monthly journal Australian Aviculture. The current list recommends the following price per pair, between members:

1) Blue-cheeked Rosella $150 pair (approximately $US105).

2) Pale-headed Rosella $100 pair (approximately $US70).

This price guide Cit is a guide only, and not enforceable) applies to the State of Victoria only, where the society is based, as prices can vary from state to state, depending on availability and interest.





Forshaw,]. M. Australian Parrots. (second [rev.] ed.). Lansdowne Editions, Melbourne, Australia: 1981.

Hutchins, B. R. & Lovell, R. H. Australian Parrots: A Field and Aviary Study. Avicultural Society of Australia, Melbourne, Australia: 1985.