What to Know About the Crimson Rosella

Medically Reviewed by Vanesa Farmer, DVM on November 26, 2022
5 min read

Crimson rosellas are small parrots that are as colorful as their name. These bright, blue-cheeked birds are native to the Australian coast but can be kept as visually stunning pets.

The crimson rosella, scientific name Platycercus eximius, is a parrot native to southeastern Australia. 

Crimson rosellas are small, brightly colored birds. They’re often distinguished from other rosella species by their bright blue cheek patches.

Although their name suggests that all crimson rosellas are red, they come in several different colors. Red crimson rosellas have bright red plumage with black and blue edges along their wings and tails. 

Yellow rosellas and Adelaide rosellas are bright yellow and orange, respectively, and may have green tails. Although not all crimson rosellas are actually crimson, they do all have the distinctive blue cheeks. 

Crimson rosella size. Crimson rosellas are on the smaller side, with most birds weighing less than half a pound. They are typically about a foot long.

Crimson rosellas are mostly found in eastern and southeastern Australia, particularly along the coast or slightly inland.

Red, yellow, and orange crimson rosellas are found in slightly different areas within southeastern Australia. Red crimson rosellas can also be seen in some parts of New Zealand.

Crimson rosella behavior in the wild. Young crimson rosellas typically travel together in flocks, while adult birds tend to gather in small groups.

Crimson rosellas aren’t afraid to get close to humans and may come by to say hello, particularly if you have something to feed them. Crimson rosellas can be chatty and are usually heard giving chirps or clucks, although they will start shrieking if threatened or scared. 

What’s the difference between crimson rosellas and eastern rosellas? There are several species of rosellas that differ from each other in subtle ways. The eastern rosella (Playcercus eximius) can be distinguished from its crimson cousin by its coloring. 

Eastern rosellas have white cheek patches, rather than blue, and tend to have yellow and green body feathers rather than the characteristic red or orange seen in crimson rosellas. 

When eastern rosellas choose a partner, they mate for life. Unlike crimson rosellas, male eastern rosellas will bring food to their partner while she’s incubating eggs. Males of both species help the females raise their chicks.

  • It’s believed that the name “rosella” came from the Rose Hill area in Sydney, Australia. Early settlers who saw the birds around Rose Hill began calling them Rose Hillers, which eventually shortened into the now commonly used "rosella". 
  • The crimson rosella may have more photopigments than other animals. Photopigments are special proteins in the eye that allow detection of light and color. One study did genetic sequencing on crimson rosellas and found that they have two extra photopigments that have never been seen before in other species. Since the crimson rosella is so brightly colored, these extra photopigments may help them to better pick out family members and mates.

The crimson rosella is typically found in the wild but can thrive in captivity. A crimson rosella pet is a colorful and vibrant addition to your home.

Crimson rosella lifespan. Crimson rosellas, when cared for correctly, can live for well over a decade. The average lifespan of a crimson rosella kept as a pet is 10 to 20 years.

What to feed a crimson rosella. In the wild, crimson rosellas typically eat seeds from eucalyptus trees, grasses, and shrubs. They may also eat some fruits and insects. 

In captivity, crimson rosellas can be fed seed mixes or pellet diets. However, avoid feeding fatty seeds like sunflower seeds. You can also supplement their diet with leafy greens, vegetables, and fruits.

How to house a crimson rosella. Crimson rosellas prefer to have a lot of space to roam. If possible, large outdoor aviaries are the best housing for these birds. However, they can be housed indoors if an outside aviary is not an option. 

If you’re housing your birds outside, make sure that:

  • Their cage is secured. Double security doors can keep the birds from escaping and prevent predators from getting in.
  • There are sheltered areas in the cage. Covered shelters in the cage provide a comfortable place to sleep and protect the birds on sunny days. 
  • They have wooden perches. Perches are good spots for resting and provide easy spots for chewing. Chestnut, hazel, sycamore, eucalyptus, and ash branches make good perches for these birds. 

If your bird is housed in a metal cage, make sure that the metal doesn’t contain zinc. Zinc is toxic to crimson rosellas, and chewing on zinc cages can cause serious health problems.

Crimson rosellas should be housed in pairs but not with other types of birds. These parrots can get aggressive with other species, so keep your crimson rosellas separated in their own cage. 

Stimulation and exercise for a crimson rosella. Crimson rosellas require ample space to fly around. If you’re housing your birds inside, be sure to let them out of the cage several times a week to stretch their wings.

Before letting your crimson rosella fly around the room:

  • Secure all windows and doors.
  • Block off any chimneys or fireplaces.
  • Turn off heaters and fans.
  • Remove toxic houseplants and other pets.

Provide toys and other objects for your crimson rosella to play with and chew on. Be aware that these birds have powerful beaks and may destroy pet shop toys. You can supplement their toys with more inexpensive objects like pinecones. 

Crimson rosella health issues. Crimson rosellas are susceptible to the beak and feather disease virus (BFDV). BFDV affects both wild and captive rosellas and can cause death in young birds and chronic illness in adult birds. 

Some signs that your bird is sick include:

  • Fluffed-up feathers
  • Loud or fast breathing, particularly with their beak open
  • Eye or nostril discharge
  • Excessive feather plucking

If you notice major changes in your rosella’s appearance or behavior, contact your veterinarian.

Crimson rosellas are striking birds that are commonly found in the wild. Although not all crimson rosellas are crimson, they do differ from other rosellas by their distinctive blue cheeks. 

These birds require ample space to fly around and benefit from large, spacious aviaries. When given enough space to spread their wings, they make for beautiful pets.