Platycercus elegans - Crimson Rosella

Crimson RosellaPlatycercus elegans (Gmelin, JF, 1788) – is a medium sized Australean parrot with a beutiful red plumage.

It is a popular and common both as a pet and in aviculture, which is likely because of its beauty and its lovely song. They are also relatively easy to breed. The Crimson Rosella is very curious and not shy,

The Yellow Rosella (P.e. flaveolus) subspecies is more rare in aviculture and as a pet. It is more shy and usually seen in trees being less vocal than the Crimson Rosella.

Young birds may gather in flocks; however, adult birds are rarely seen in large groups.

With proper care they can reach a lifespan of 10-15 years.

Crimson Rosella is listed on CITES Appendix II and EU Annex B.
It is categorized as Least Concern by the IUCN Red List.


As the name implies the Crimson Rosella has an overall dark red plumage. Characteristic purple/blue cheek patches. The back and mantle is black with red edges resulting in a very distinctive pattern. Purple/blue bend of wing, outer median and outer secondary feathers on wing coverts. The tail is dark blue on the upperside with blue/white tip and white/bluish on the underside. Dark brown eyes. Lightgrey bill. 

The female has similar colors but the bill is smaller and the upper mandible is narrower. Also the tail is washed with dull green.

Juvenies are olive/green which will change into more and more red spots as they mature. The tail is dark olive/green.

Size: 36 cm
Weight: 115-170g



  • Order: Psittaciformes
  • Family: Psittaculidae
  • Genus: Platycercus


  • Danish: Pennants Parakit, Pennants Rosella
  • English: Crimson Rosella, Yellow Rosella, Adelaide Rosella
  • French: Perruche de Pennant
  • German: Pennantsittich
  • Portuguese: Rosela-elegante
  • Spanish: Perico Elegante
  • Scientific: Platycercus elegans

IUCN Red List

BirdLife International 2018. Platycercus elegans. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22733483A132181501.
Downloaded on 9 July 2021



Seven subspecies are recognized:

  • Platycercus elegans elegans (Gmelin, JF, 1788) Crimson Rosella : Nominate form, see description above.
  • Platycercus elegans adelaidae (Gould, 1840)Adelaide Rosella : The red color replaced by deep orange/red plumage. The mantle and back is grey/black spotted with dull orange/red. Pale blue outer median and secondary wing coverts. 
  • Platycercus elegans filewoodi (McAllan & Bruce, 1989) : Similar to P.e. elegans but the red color is replaced with yellow.
  • Platycercus elegans flaveolus – (Gould, 1837) Yellow Rosella : The red color is replaced with a bright pale yellow with orange/red lores and frontal band. The mantle and back is black spotted with yellow. Rump and upper tail coverts are olive/yellow. See photos below.
  • Platycercus elegans melanopterus (North, 1906) : Similar to P.e. elegans but the red edge on  the black feathers on back and mantle is narrower.
  • Platycercus elegans nigrescens (Ramsay, EP, 1888) : Similar to P.e. elegans but smaller in size with a darker red and more spots on the back and mantle.
  • Platycercus elegans subadelaidae (Mathews, 1912)Adelaide Rosella : Orange/red forehead, crown and face with a brighter red on frontal band. Underparts are dull yellow washed with dull orange/red. Mantle and back is grey/black spotted with dull yellow. Lower back to upper tail coverts is olive/yellow. See photo below.

Previously Platycercus elegans fleurieuensis was considered a separate subspecies but it was included in Platycercus elegans adelaidae with the IOC 13.1 update in 2023.


The Crimson Rosella is native to Australia, where the various subspecies inhabits the following ranges:

  • Platycercus elegans elegans – Crimson Rosella (nominate) :  Southeastern Queensland to southeastern South Australia
  • Platycercus elegans adelaidae – Adelaide Rosella : Fleurieu Peninsula and Mt. Lofty Ranges to Mid North, southeastern South Australia.
  • Platycercus elegans filewoodi : east-central Queensland; mainly found in Eucalyptus camaldulensis woodlands near rivers.
  • Platycercus elegans flaveolusYellow Rosella : Murray River (southeastern Australia)
  • Platycercus elegans melanopterus : Kangaroo Island
  • Platycercus elegans nigrescens : Northeastern Queensland
  • Platycercus elegans subadelaidae – Adelaide Rosella : southern Flinders range (South Australia)

In northern Australia the Crimson Rosella is usually found in upland forests, where they prefer Eucalypt forest, margins of rainforest and tall secondary growth. In the southern ranges they can be found in varied habitats. They may also be found in cultivated areas and open woodlands.


Crimson Rosella feeds on seeds from various grasses and trees, blossoms, nectar and insect larvae.

The Yellow Rosella P.e. filewoodi feeds on seeds from Eucalypt and Acacia, fruits, berries, blossoms and insects.


Breeding season is August – February.

The aviary should be at least 3m long.
A vertical box about 23 x 23 x 61 cm (9″ x 9″ x 24″) is used as nest box.

The Crimson Rosella lays 5-8 eggs; the Yellow Rosella lays 4-5 eggs. The eggs are incubated for about 3 weeks; the chicks reach fledging age after 5 weeks.


Yellow Rosella

Yellow RosellaPlatycercus elegans flaveolus
Photo credits: David Cook – Licensed by Creative Commons CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

Adelaide Rosella

Adelaide RosellaPlatycercus elegans adelaidae
Photo credits: Brian McCauley – Licensed by Creative Commons CC BY-NC 2.0 license.