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A photo of a Western Rosella (Platycercus icterotis), male
Western Rosella, Male

Western Rosella

Platycercus icterotis

The Western Rosella, known scientifically as Platycercus icterotis and colloquially as moyadong, is a parrot endemic to southwestern Australia. This species is the smallest within its genus, with adults weighing between 60 to 70 grams and measuring 25 to 30 centimeters in length. The males are particularly striking with their bright red heads and underparts, while the females are more subdued in coloration.

Identification Tips

Adult Western Rosellas exhibit sexual dimorphism, with males displaying a more vivid scarlet red compared to females. The species is characterized by a yellow cheek patch, which is bright in the nominate subspecies and paler in the inland subspecies. Juveniles lack the mature colors and are predominantly green with red only on the crown. The back of the bird is mottled with black, red, green, and buff, and the wings are green with blue-edged dark primary coverts.

Habitat

The Western Rosella's natural habitat includes eucalypt forests and woodlands. They are often found in areas cleared of vegetation, where they feed on seeds.

Distribution

This species is confined to the southwestern part of Australia, with two subspecies occupying distinct regions. The nominate subspecies, P. icterotis icterotis, is found in coastal areas, while P. icterotis xanthogenys resides in the inland agricultural district.

Behaviour

Western Rosellas are generally sedentary and form monogamous pairs. They may join small groups at abundant food sources. Their behavior is unobtrusive, and they can be quite placid and sociable compared to other rosellas.

Song & Calls

The communication call of the Western Rosella is a soft "pink-pink" sound. They are less vocal than other rosella species and their calls are delivered at a low volume.

Breeding

Breeding behavior is not extensively documented, but nesting typically occurs in hollows of trees. Females lay eggs from late August to late September, with young fledging from late October to mid-November.

Similar Species

The Western Rosella can be confused with the Red-capped Parrot and Port Lincoln Parrot, but can be distinguished by its yellow cheek patch and lack of a yellow rump or blue cheek.

Diet and Feeding

The diet is predominantly herbivorous, consisting mostly of seeds from grasses and plants. They also consume nectar and insect larvae occasionally. They have been known to feed on seeds of introduced crops but generally cause minimal damage.

Conservation Status

The Western Rosella is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, populations have declined due to habitat loss, and the inland subspecies is considered 'near threatened'. The species is protected under CITES Appendix II.

Captivity

The Western Rosella is popular in aviaries due to its placid nature and sociability. It has been bred successfully in captivity since the early 20th century.

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