Head pressing by Eastern Rosellas

Subject: Head pressing by Eastern Rosellas
From: Gordon Claridge <>
Date: Wed, 28 Aug 2019 14:49:54 +1000
Are they checking for the sounds of monitor lizard claws on the tree (outside or inside the trunk)?

I was told many years ago that hole nesting birds can be flushed by scratching on an area of dead wood on the trunk with a dry branch to simulate the sound of monitor lizard claws.

It would make sense if they were pressing their heads on the trunk / nest box to use bone conduction through their skulls to pick up any such faint sounds before they get too invested in a breeding effort in that “tree”.

Gordon Claridge

On 28 Aug 2019, at 2:09 PM, Jla <> wrote:

Hello, Geoff. 

It’s interesting you use the word “pressing” – Does it look hard enough that they might be checking the solidity of the proposed nest & perches & surrounds, for signs of terminal rottenness in the wood? Are there typical tree species they use wherever you are located? If so, are these tree species subject to rottenness at the hollows, &/or insect infestations beneath the surfaces?

Alternatively, is the Eastern Rosella one of the parrots in which couples will rest with their foreheads touching together? If so, this forehead-to-wood thing might be a part of nest-choice ritual never noted before by science…

Proximity to wild-bird nests is such an honour, & so enlightening. Since the work of the Cuppers, really, there’s been little excitement at the richness of such observation – until the intimate world of live nestcams arrived more recently. (Does Forshaw mention this, do you know? – “Australian Parrots” 3rdEd)

Anyway, worth looking at the species throughout its range as the breeding season opens. 

SEQ 500m

On Wednesday, 28 August 2019, Geoff Ryan <m("","geoffryanster");" class="">> wrote:
Once again we have Eastern Rosellas nesting in a box next to our lounge room wall. This year we have again observed a puzzling behavioural pattern by the nesting couple. The lengthy process of nest selection (we have two boxes in the backyard) involves much 'head pressing' where the bird presses its forehead on the box, around the box, around the house walls near the box and particularly on the awning strut, near the box, where they perch. This behaviour is mainly done by the male but both are involved. Now they have started laying the male still head presses when he perches on the strut awaiting the incubating female to emerge.
In my ignorance I think that this may be some sort of territorial marking - such as smearing some substance from glands in the skin of the forehead and by doing so laying claim to the nesting area.   

I would appreciate your considered opinions. 

Thanks   Geoff 


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