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Eastern Rosella – an extremely colourful parrot

Bird Photography with marysejansenart

A mission to capture these stunning feathers on camera

Eastern Rosella by Maryse Jansen
Eastern Rosella

Colourful looks

One of my missions while I am on a short holiday in South Australia is to photograph an Eastern Rosella. It is one of the most colourful birds I have ever seen! I have seen them on a previous visit, but I never got an opportunity for a good shot. They were mostly flying through the tree tops, a dazzling flash of colour accompanied by a chirping call – their flight call.

The Eastern Rosella’s white cheeks contrast with the intense red head and throat. Its belly is yellow and its back is yellow or greenish with black. Shoulders, wings and tail are bright blue and black while the undertail is red again. It is truly a stunning bird!

Males and females look quite similar but there are a few differences. Males tend to be larger then females and their colours are brighter compared to young and female parrots. The male’s beak is a bit broader then the female’s.

Where to find Eastern Rosellas

The Eastern Rosella is one of the six species of Rosellas that exist in Australia. They are all colourful, broad-tailed parrots that can be recognised by a distinctive cheek patch. The cheek patch of the Eastern Rosella is white, it has that in common with the Pale-headed Rosella. Where the ranges of these two species meet, hybrid forms have been recorded.

South-eastern Australia, including south-east Queensland to Victoria and south-east South Australia is the range of the Eastern Rosella, but I have never seen one in south-east Queensland. They are definitely much more common here in the south-east of South Australia. In Queensland I have a much better chance of seeing a Pale-headed Rosella or a Crimson Rosella.

I have a feeling I might get lucky this time, because I hear so many Eastern Rosellas calling during my walk. There I see a couple gliding through the trees …. and another couple! The birds are most often seen in pairs, sometimes they will be feeding in small groups. Their diet consists mainly of seeds, which they find on the ground or in bushes and trees. They will also eat berries, blossoms, fruit, nectar and insects.

There I see a pair feeding in a low tree. They are mostly covered up by the dense growing branches, so still not the best conditions for a photo.

Eastern Rosella breeding habits

The Rosella pairs are all so active, I wonder if they are having a late breeding season. It has been unusually cold here in spring and they are known to breed in summer as well when needed. They create their nest in a tree hollow, preferably in a Eucalyptus tree. They like their nest to be high up at about 30m high! The hollow is about 1m deep.

The female bird picks out a good nesting site and prepares it by creating a bed of decayed wood. She lays about 5 eggs. During the 19 days that she incubates the eggs, the male regularly stops by to feed her. The young chicks spend 32 days in the nest before they fledge. Both parents share the duty of feeding them. Rosellas mate for life and can live up to 20 years.

Two Eastern Rosellas by Maryse Jansen
Two Eastern Rosellas

Then I spot two Eastern Rosellas on a large branch, not too high up the tree. What a beautiful photo opportunity! They are not obscured by any vegetation and the soft, dappled sunlight brings out their colours against the brown branch and green backdrop. Aren’t they beautiful!?

For some footage of this beautiful species, including preening time where the bird shows off its colourful tail feathers, watch below the new epsisode of ‘Come for a walk in the Australian Bush’! And yes, apart from beautiful birds there are koalas to spot as well! All very exciting, I hope you’ll enjoy!

If you are interested in purchasing ‘Eastern Rosella’ or would like to see what the image looks like on the various products, please head to my shop. Also check out my Australian Parrots Gallery for more images of our colourful Rosellas and other parrots here.

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