Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Breeding biology of crimson rosellas (Platycercus elegans) on Black Mountain, Australian Capital Territory

Elizabeth A. Krebs

Australian Journal of Zoology 46(2) 119 - 136
Published: 1998


The breeding behaviour of crimson rosellas (Platycercus elegans) in Canberra, Australia, was studied between 1993 and 1996. Female rosellas initiated breeding in late September or early October, laying a mean of 5.3 ± 0.1 (s.e.) eggs at 1–4-day intervals. Of all eggs laid, 50% fledged successfully. Rosellas had the highest breeding success in the wettest year (1995), when they bred earlier, laid larger clutches and fledged more young. Unexpectedly, breeding success was not lowest in the driest year (1994), although fewer birds attempted breeding and hatching success was low. In this study, poor environmental conditions for breeding were counterbalanced by decreased levels of conspecific interference through egg destruction. Overall, 55.8% of all clutches initiated were destroyed during laying, and more than half of this was attributed to rosellas. The reasons for egg destruction by rosellas were not clear. Boxes where clutches were destroyed were not quickly reoccupied and egg destruction was not highest when competition for nesting hollows was most intense. Clutch size and egg-laying intervals decreased over the breeding season, but the length of incubation did not. Large clutches did not produce more fledglings, because more eggs failed to hatch, especially early in the season. Eggs in a clutch hatched over a period of 0.5–7 days. Total hatching asynchrony increased over the breeding season and was not strongly correlated with clutch or brood size. This suggests that female rosellas initiated incubation at different times during laying. Clutches with longer hatching intervals took longer to incubate. If females in poor condition are inefficient incubators, female condition may affect the degree of hatching asynchrony.

© CSIRO 1998

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