BREEDING GREEN ROSELLAS
By Rex Hyland 1996
The Green Rosella (Platycerus Caledonicus), is often referred to as the Tasmanian Rosella; this no doubt would be because it is only found in Tasmania and its off shore Islands. It inhabits our dense rainforests and coastal areas also light sclerophyll forests and the central highlands. Books that I have read say breeding starts in September and goes through to February but I tend to disagree, My observations were in an area where I worked for 15 years about 30 kilometres inland in North West Tasmania, there they nest from December to February. They may start in November but it would be in the latter part of the month, but they may nest earlier along the coast.
My December to February months would appear more normal because they are only single brooders. They nest high up in the eucalyptus on the ridges or in myrtle trees in gullies and creeks, but in the lake country nests are much lower due to stunted trees in this type of country. Clutches vary from 3 to 6, but 4 would be more normal. In the wild I have seen young birds leave the nest and fly around trees several metres away, then return to the nest. But I don't think that when they really leave the nest that they would do this, because aviary bred greens don't go back in once they come out. Young birds have a dull green plumage and don't get adult plumage until 12 to 14 months old.
They feed on seeds of various trees and grasses,
berries, fruit blossoms, buds, nectar and insects, also
Hawthorn hedges and apple orchards. I have seen them
feeding in Leatherwood trees also, after the flowers
there are small black seeds, so one would imagine this
is what they would be eating. They also strip the fronds
on manferns during the winter months. From late April
through till May they will form flocks of 50 or more
birds, and feed on blackberry bushes. They have a bad
habit of feeding on these along roadsides and many are
killed or crippled with motor vehicles.
I have bred these birds in my aviaries for the past 10 years, the smallest clutch has been 2 and the largest being 7 with several 5's. They are good reliable parents once they get started, some pairs have been 3 years old before breeding, although in the wild I have seen juvenile hens looking in nest holes. I have never had a first year hen nest in the aviary yet.
I have also had wild Rosellas nest under the eaves of my house, in the 93-94 seasons with 3 fledging. In the 94-95 season 3 more fledged, and in the 95-96 season they did not nest due to Starlings, in 1994 I trapped 44 Starlings before the parrots were able to nest so it is a full time occupation getting rid of the pests. There is another pair here now checking the nest out, they do this from now or even as early as April right through till they go to nest.
Green Rosellas are spread all over the Island of Tasmania to the best of my knowledge, but we should not be too complacent, my main concern would be loss of habitat, this would explain them nesting in buildings, I know of places on King Island and also around at Strahan. This is one Rosella I would not like to be without in my aviaries, so I will always endeavour to find a flight or two for them, hopefully for years to come.
Copyright remains with the author.