Pale-headed Rosella

Pale-headed Rosella 30 cm; 100–175 g. Bill and face 

parrot Pale-headed Rosella

Pale-headed Rosella

white shading to yellow, lightly edged black, on nape  and sides of neck; chin and lower cheeks grey-blue; mantle, back 

Pale-headed Rosella parrot

Pale-headed Rosella

and scapulars black with broad yellow edges, making scaled effect, rump yellow; wing as in P. venustus 

; breast pale yellow shading to pale blue on belly; vent 

Pale-headed Rosella

Pale-headed Rosella

and under tail-coverts red; tail bluish-green centrally, outer feathers blue-tipped white. Female similar to the male, but has pale underwing stripe. Immature like female but duller.

parrots Pale-headed Rosella

                              Pale-headed Rosella

Race palliceps lacks blue-grey on cheeks but usually has entire underparts grey-blue; rump pale blue to greenish-blue.

Systematics History

Editor’s Note: This article requires further editing work to merge existing content into the appropriate Subspecies sections. Please bear with us while this update takes place.

Forms a species group with P. venustus and P. eximius, and sometimes considered conspecific with both. The proposed form mackaiensis (Mackay, E Queensland) is synonymized with palliceps; form elseyi is an intergrade between latter and nominate. Hybrids of present species with P. elegans were originally thought to be a separate species, “P. mastersianus” (Masters’s Rosella) . Two subspecies were recognized.


Editor’s Note: Additional distribution information for this taxon can be found in the ‘Subspecies’ article above. In the future, we will develop a range-wide distribution article.


Occurs in a variety of habitats, including savanna woodland, paperbark woodland, riverine and swamp growth, Banksia-dominated coastal heath, wet sclerophyll forest, fringes of the lowland rain forest, farmland and clearings.


Sedentary; some local movements at the edges of the range are related to climatic pressures.

Diet and Foraging

Wide range of plants utilized, with 47 species recorded; forages more arboreally than P. eximius. Seeds of Eucalyptus camaldulensisCasuarina cunninghamianaMelaleuca linariifoliaOnopordon acanthiumXanthium chinenseX. spinosumCallitris and Acacia recorded, also blossoms of Melaleuca, fruits of Dodonaea triquetra. Can be a pest in orchards and maize fields.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

Flight call is a loud, dry “chit-chit”, repeated in loose series. When perched utters rather melodious squabbling phrases and a series of repeated pure whistles, “pee-pee-pee-pee” or “tu-tuu..tu-tuu..tu-tuu”.


Feb–Jun in N, though with some variation depending on rainfall, Sept–Dec in S. Nest in a deep hollow in living or dead tree, preferably a eucalypt near a watercourse, but also in a stump or hollow fence post. Eggs 3–5; incubation lasts 19 days; nestling period c. 5 weeks.

Conservation Status

Not globally threatened. CITES II. Abundant throughout most of the range, benefiting from agriculture and cereal cultivation; only in S, where sympatric with closely related P. eximius, is it patchy in numbers.

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