Crimson Rosellas

I recently posted about my impromptu aviary. I mentioned that when the sunflowers ripened, I would be adding parrots to the list of birds visiting my back garden. Well, the sunflowers are ripening. Here are the first visitors: crimson Rosellas. One adult comes with his or her (I can’t tell the difference) teenage offspring every morning at about 6:30. They return most afternoons for a second feed.

These are my favourite Australian parrots. That red coat is spectacular. Both male and female start out greenish and “ripen” to a deep red as they get older. There is a difference in size between males and females but I’m not going to try to guess which my visitor is.

Crimson Rosellas helping themselves to sunflower seeds

Crimson Rosellas helping themselves to sunflower seeds

The young one mainly picks leaves and eats the stems. I wonder if the seeds are too hard to get. The older Rosella sit on top of a flower head (which has to be on a very strong stalk) then leans way over to pick seeds from the flower head. S/he’s very good at picking eating only the ripe seeds and leaving the others to mature on the plant.

Rosella hanging upside down to eat the ripe seeds from the sunflower

Rosella hanging upside down to eat the ripe seeds from the sunflower

Here’s the result of that selective eating.

Sunflower with all the ripe seeds gone, thanks to the rosellas

Sunflower with all the ripe seeds gone, thanks to the Rosellas

The chickens are very interested in the Rosellas. I suspect they’ve learned that parrots are messy eaters and they’re hoping for some leavings. In fact, my girls are happy (nah, keen) to eat the shells of the sunflower seeds. The problem is that most of the flowers are behind the veggie-patch fence so the good stuff falls out of reach of the chickens 😦 (Confession, I went down after the Rosellas left and collected a handful of discarded seeds for my chooks. I want them to adore me always and it sure is easy to buy their affection. I didn’t feed the bush turkey though, she’s getting enough freebies from the chicken feeders.)

2 rosellas, 2 chickens and one bold bush turkey

2 rosellas, 2 chickens and one bold bush turkey

I love these daily visits and I’ll be sad when the sunflowers are all gone. But it looks like I have a couple of weeks of “harvest” ahead of me so I won’t mourn the passing of this display for a while. Unless the cockatoos find the sunflowers – a flock of them can eat (or pick and carry away) all my flowers in a single day. Here’s hopin’.


About Laura Rittenhouse

I'm an American-Australian author, gardener and traveller. Go to my writing website: for more. If you're trying to find my gardening blog, it's here.
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15 Responses to Crimson Rosellas

  1. They are really spectacular, we never have anything that colourful in our garden.

    • I imagine few people do and, if so, I want to see photos! Rosellas are so bright and beautiful and they even make sweet little squeaks rather than the horrid squawks of other parrots. What’s not to love about these guys?

  2. John from Victoria says:

    A veggie garden, birds, bees, chooks… Your environment, Laura, and your simple pleasures have much in common with the ordinary lot of Australians of past generations and also of the back-to-the-land crowd of yore. I wonder if this kind of lifestyle will become more widespread again in coming years.

    Crimson rosellas only live where there is some native forest around, so people see few of them in suburban or town gardens. They are quite shy of people and not too keen to get near the ground anyway.

    The one thing crimson rosellas love in our garden is ginger-lily flowers. They eat the long flowers to get at the plentiful nectar at their base. We cover a few of the flowers with bird netting to protect them as my wife and I love the smell of the ginger-lily. The rosellas can eat the rest.

    I love your photos. I took a couple of shots of rosellas in a treefern below our verandah and on our terrace where they drink from a bird bath in the summer months. The photos are not as good as yours, but I’ll email them to you on request if you really think I am pulling your leg.

    • I would have never guessed they like ginger-lily flowers, they’re pretty close to the ground. I love your approach, some get netting for humans, the rest are for the birds. Very clever compromise.

      There is definitely a wave of back-to-basics going on. Knitting and sewing, baking and canning, growing and tending – all things my parents would turn their noses up at are things that are fashionable again. A lot of it is the pendulum swinging but I do think there’s a realisation that we are getting too disconnected from the necessities of life and getting overrun by marketing of “quick and easy” products. I absolutely love doing for myself as much as I can and so I’m not surprised I’m just one of many. I often think I was born half a century late – or more!

  3. stunning birds, what a treat for you, and them! xxx

  4. Wow! Their color is so vibrant!

  5. What gorgeous photos. Rosellas have such beautiful colours. Your garden must be the envy of your neighbourhood.

    • I wonder if my garden is enviable. Many people don’t like native birds and marsupials because they eat so many introduced plants, dig holes in gardens and lawns, steal fruit… Maybe I’m marked at that woman who actually creates an environment where “pests” thrive 😮

  6. Lovely – we don’t get Rosella’s here. Just the colorful lorikeets, who are very noisy but I still love them. Certain wildlife I am quite happy to fence out – like the bandicoot – I think you are more kind and inviting to the local wild life 🙂 than I am

    • We get lorikeets here but they stay up in the trees and never come to our veggie patch. You’re right, they are noisy, especially at dawn in mid-summer!

      And yes, I’m a pushover for wild life – even the bandicoot. I’m sure they’ve all spread the word.

  7. vuchickens says:

    So beautiful! And so nice that they aren’t very loud. We mainly get blue jay visitors to our yard, which are nice to look at, but they are crazy loud, they sound like human babies screaming.

    • I’ve often wondered why some birds are so loud. Surely it makes all the other birdies hate them. Don’t they want to be popular? Crimson Rosellas are probably invited to all the bird-parties. Poor blue jays will have to just stand on the outskirts looking in with the noisy cockatoos 🙂

  8. Pingback: Winter 2013 | Laura Rittenhouse's Gardening Journal

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