More than just a pet

Nightingales prized for their song and companionship in Diyala

DIYALA, December 29 — Many people love the type of pet birds that accompany their owners, eat from their hands, or perch on their shoulders. However, for true aficionados of the authentic nightingale’s song, the wild nightingale’s musical memory remains untainted, singing flawlessly, according to breeder Ali Karim.

In Al-Khalis, Diyala, as in most cities, the nightingale has a permanent corner in Iraqi homes, often considered one of the family, just like dogs and cats for others.

As a result, overhunting of these birds means fewer of them are flying among the country’s palm groves, warns another breeder, Hassan Al-Karawi.

Ali Karim, Nightingale Breeder:

“Nightingale breeding is considered a heritage trade in Diyala. Houses in the governorate prefer it among many other birds for its ease of breeding, the beauty of its voice and appearance, and its nickname, ‘The White-Cheeked One.’”

“Breeding starts in May, and enthusiasts care for and feed them until they are tamed.”

“The price of a wild nightingale is higher than a domesticated one due to its naturally beautiful voice, reaching up to one million dinars or more depending on its singing and language. In contrast, a pet costs between 50 to 150,000 dinars.”

“The voice of a wild nightingale is natural and flawless, unlike tame nightingales, which is why the prices of wild birds are higher.”

“Those who want to train a nightingale must do so with a wild one to acquire its traits and natural voice.”

“Many people take them as gifts and souvenirs, and if someone has a loved one, they give them a nightingale.”

“Among the famous types of nightingales is the Manadlawi, and their prices vary, because they are desired by everyone… even politicians!”

Hassan Al-Karawi, Nightingale Breeder:

“I believe that the nightingale is in danger of extinction due to overhunting by hunters who bring in hauls of 100 to 150 nightingales each time, selling them to us. Without this, we would see nightingales everywhere.”

“The presence of a nightingale [in a home] in Diyala is considered an important corner of the house. Its chirping has a special flavor and uniqueness for residents, giving them vitality and energy from morning to evening.”

“Women are the ones who most care for nightingales, as they are their companions during the long hours spent at home. Losing a nightingale is almost like losing a family member.”