Ian’s Bird of the Week – Green Rosella ~ by Ian Montgomery
Newsletter ~ 2/26/13
The two recent Tasmanian birds of the week seem to have been popular so here is another one, the Green Rosella. I spent an enjoyable week in a rented campervan in Tasmanian in December 2011 on the way back from the Sub-antarctic trip chasing Tasmanian specialties. After that trip, the Tasmanian species got somewhat eclipsed by the penguins, albatrosses and other seabirds as choices for bird of the week, so I’m making amends now.
At up to 37cm/14.6in in length, it’s the largest of the Rosellas, being marginally larger on average than its close relative the Crimson Rosella which it replaces in Tasmania and some islands in Bass Strait. Males are generally larger than females and there are subtle between the sexes with males having relatively larger upper mandibles and broader heads (first photo) and females having more orange on the cheeks (second photo) though most of the field guides don’t distinguish between the sexes.
Juveniles, third photo, are more distinctive with duller more olive plumage and, in flight, pale wing stripes. This bird was in the company of the adult in the second photo, and the one in the first photo was in the same area, so I assumed that they comprised a family.
Green Rosellas are quite common throughout Tasmania, showing a preference for highland forest, though these ones were near the coast on the Tinderbox Peninsula south of Hobart, a good place to search for all the Tasmanian endemics.
The specific name caledonicus was used by the German naturalist Johann Gmelin in 1788, who mistakenly believed that the type specimen had been collected in New Caledonia. Confusion is the name of the game in Rosella terminology, and species boundaries have changed over the years. The Crimson Rosella has two races which differ greatly in plumage and both the ‘Yellow Rosella’ of Southwest NSW and the ‘Adelaide Rosella’ of South Australia have been regarded as separate species in the past. The Yellow Rosella (fourth photo) looks quite like the Green Rosella – and not at all like a Crimson Rosella – but the Green, given its geographical isolation, has been given the benefit of the doubt and retained as a separate species. This is just as well, politically anyway, as it’s the avian symbol of Tasmania and deserves a certain status.
Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Tel 0411 602 737 firstname.lastname@example.org
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I will teach you regarding the hand and handiwork of God; that which is with the Almighty … (Job 27:11a AMP)
The Green Rosella is sometimes referred to as the Tasmanian Rosella, probably as Ian mentioned because it is the Avian Symbol of Tasmanian. The Green and “Yellow” Crimson Rosella are part of the Psittacidae – Parrots Family. What gorgeous birds belong to this family and they show the Handiwork of the Lord at some of it’s finest.
Their diet is composed of seeds, fruit, berries and flowers, as well as insects and insect larvae. The Green Rosella is predominantly herbivorous, consuming seeds, berries, nuts and fruit, as well as flowers, but may also eat insect larvae and insects such as psyllids. They have also partaken of the berries of the common hawthorn, as well as Coprosma and Cyathodes, and even leaf buds of the Common Osier. The seeds of the Silver Wattle (Acacia dealbata) are also eaten.
The breeding season is October to January, with one brood. The nesting site is usually a hollow over 1 m (3 ft) deep in a tree trunk anywhere up to 30 m (100 ft) above the ground. A clutch of four or five white and slightly shiny eggs, measuring 30 x 24 mm, is laid. The nestlings leave the nest around five weeks after hatching and remain with their parents for another month.
(Wikipedia with editing)