Birdwatch | The most striking bird in Australia

BUSH HARLEQUINS: The stunning Eastern Rosella is possibly our nation's most colourful bird and a truly iconic avian species.
BUSH HARLEQUINS: The stunning Eastern Rosella is possibly our nation's most colourful bird and a truly iconic avian species.

The Eastern Rosella would have to be one of the most colourful of the Australian native birds.

However, they are a little shy around people and very successfully camouflaged when on the ground or in heavy foliage, so not always clearly visible.

The bird was originally observed by European settlers at Rose Hill in 1792 and called the Rose Hill Parakeet. This name was shortened to Rosehiller and eventually Rosella.

Many Australians would recognise an Eastern Rosella as the symbol on sauce bottles and cans of soup made under the iconic Rosella brand.

When I was a child, these birds were very popular as pets. As a matter of fact our family had a much-loved Rosella called Polly.

They are still popular with caged bird enthusiasts although they are best viewed in their native bush.

Rosellas are multi-coloured with a red head and neck and greenish-yellow wings and back, mottled with black, a bright blue shoulder and bright yellow underparts.

The tail is long, and they have a distinguishing white cheek patch.

Rosellas are found across diverse habitats from woodland to urban areas and have a diet to match, consisting of grasses, seeds, fruits, buds, flowers, nectar and insects.

Rosellas are found across diverse habitats from woodland to urban areas and have a diet to match, consisting of grasses, seeds, fruits, buds, flowers, nectar and insects.

All in all it’s an unbelievable and striking colour combination.

Eastern Rosellas are found throughout south east Australia and south east South Australia with small populations in Tasmania. 

They inhabit open woodland, grasslands, farmlands and remnant bushland, and are common in urban areas, parks and gardens.

Just locally, there are many of these birds at Walka Water Works.

Their diet consists of grasses, seeds, fruits, buds, flowers, nectar and insects.

When feeding on the grass their greenish-patterned backs make them almost impossible to see, until they suddenly fly off from under your feet.

A rosella's green patterning on its back gives much-needed camouflage when it is feeding on the ground.

A rosella's green patterning on its back gives much-needed camouflage when it is feeding on the ground.

They have an undulating flight close to the ground, gliding upward into trees with tail fanned.

The silky oaks in flower now are a favourite nectar tree and the beautiful colours of the bird are particularly striking against the bright yellow blossom.

Rosellas mate for life and make a nest in a tree hollow where they lay four to seven eggs. The female sits alone and is fed by the male. Young birds have coloured beaks which eventually turn white as they mature.

They live for about twenty-seven years.

Late spring is a lovely time of the year to go birdwatching or just to take a walk in a bushy area nearby.

There is lots of interesting behaviour to observe and besides, walking is good for you.

Hunter Bird Observer’s Club website can be found at: http://www.hboc.org.au/