T his species, the smallest of the Australian rosellas, is the only rosella found in southwestern Western Australia. In Australia it is usually known by its most popular common name - Western Rosella. It is sometimes referred to as the Yellowcheeked Rosella or Stanley Parakeet.
The Stanley Rosella Platycercus icterotis icterotis is the nominate race of the two [Stanley Rosella] species and is the one most commonly kept by aviculturists in Australia. In the wild the nominate species exists only in the extreme southwestern corner of Western Australia, well away from the
rest of the rosella family, as can be seen in distribution map - Figure 1.
The subspecies Platycercus icterotis xantbogenys is commonly known as the Red-backed Stanley Rosella and, occasionally as Salvadori's Rosella, so named by Count A. T. Salvadori, an Italian ornithologist, in 1891. In the wild this subspecies, which is a paler form, is found further inland (but still only in the southwestern part of the state) through the greater part of the wheatbelt, which is a much drier area than the wetter habitat inhabited by P. i. icterotis.
Identification Nominate Race: P i. icterotis
MALE: Head and underparts scarlet red; mantle, upperparts and feathers black, edged with green although some birds have a mixture of dark green and red; cheek patches bright yellow the same as the chin; rump green; central tail feathers green washed with blue.
FEMALE: The female is markedly different from the male. Head feathers, face and breast light green with faint red and yellow markings; lower breast, abdomen and vent duller red, suffused with green; cheek patches duller yellow compared with male.
Red-backed Race: P. i. xanthogenys
MALE: Head and underparts scarlet red; mantle, upperparts and feathers black edged with crimson red; cheek patches paler yellow with white chin, blending into the yellow cheek patches; rump greyish-olive, central tail blue with no green.
FEMALE: Much paler in color than the male Red-backed form but is con-: siderably paler again than the fem ale of the nominate race.
IMMATURES: Young birds resemble the adult female in both species, but they lack the yellow cheek patches. Although immature young Red-backed Stanley Rosellas resemble the female of the subspecies, young males do seem to be brighter in color than young females.
As nestlings both sexes carry two underwing stripes, however cocks lose their wing stripes at maturity, whereas hens retain both stripes.
Distribution of the Rosellas
If you study the accompanying map of Australia (Figure 1) it is clear that the Northern Rosella occurs in Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, from Victoria River eastwards to the Gulf of Carpentaria, the Blue Rosellas (i.e, the Blue-cheeked and Pale-headed Rosellas) are distributed from Cape York Peninsula down to northeastern New South Wales; the Crimson and Eastern Rosellas range throughout southeastern South Australia, through southeastern Queensland, eastern New South Wales and Victoria. The
Adelaide Rosella is found around the city of Adelaide and, in particular, the nearby Adelaide Hills (i.e. Mount Lofty Ranges); The Yellow Rosella inhabits a small area - along the Murray-Darling and Murrumbidgee River systems - that is many hundreds of miles long, resulting in it occurring in three states: South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. The Green Rosella, which is distributed throughout Tasmania and some of the islands of Bass Strait, is not found on mainland Australia.
I hope the above information conveys to Watchbird readers by how far the two Stanley Rosella species are separated from all the other members of the Platycercus genus.
You should never be in a hurry to buy the first pair of birds you see. This applies to the Stanley Rosella as well as the other parrots. There are birds and birds.
Look at them and make sure they are good sized specimens. Make sure they are healthy and in good feather condition. Obtain as much information as you can about the birds. Ask the following questions:
• How old are they?
• Have they ever bred?
• Are they related?
• What do they eat?
• Under what conditions have they been kept?
Such information will be extremely important once you have your first pair(s) of Stanley Rosellas at home and settled into their aviary. I prefer to buy young birds and pair them up, waiting two or three years for them to breed. My reason for this is that once the birds have acquired their adult plumage it is impossible to tell whether the birds are two years old or 20 years old, and you could be buying somebody else's problems, e.g. nonbreeders past their breeding age, mutilators, or several other reasons why the owner wants to part with them.
It is always wise to purchase unrelated pairs for breeding. If you visit an aviculturist to buy birds and are told the ones you are interested in are unrelated, and there appears to be only one breeding pair in his/her aviaries, think twice before purchasing them as being "unrelated" birds.