You may never have noticed it, but you’ve probably seen a nightingale when you’ve walked through a forest or your town. They are quite elusive birds and love to stay hidden, but it is not difficult to find one.

Types of Nightingale

A very characteristic bird

Among the different species of birds, the nightingale is one of the most appreciated by poultry lovers thanks to its harmonious singing. However, perhaps its biggest drawback is that not all species of mockingbirds can be kept as pets.

nightingale bird

The most normal thing is to find the common nightingale, the most widespread species in the luscinia family, which is characterized by its reddish-brown plumage. A colour that does not make it special at first glance, but is easy to differentiate and makes it beautiful. When flying, it is possible to detect that the interior areas are gray, and that there is a white area in the throat. Its beak is usually the same color as the plumage, with the lower jaw lighter.

Can you tell the male from the female?

The truth is, it can be difficult. Following the same pattern as other birds, some mockingbird specimens can be distinguished from the female because they have duller colors, or lack any particular color.

famele mockingbird

However, the best way to find out the sex of a nightingale is through a DNA test, as it can cost a lot to screen its genitals, being such a nervous bird when it is being grabbed.

How long does a nightingale usually live?

The nightingale is a bird that doesn’t happen to be long enough to live. It is normal for him to live between 9 – 12 years, but in captivity, due to the bad care he receives most of the times, he does not exceed 5 years.

nightingale age life

However, it is an average life expectancy, as other specimens may live longer as a bird species than it is destined to live in captivity.

Can’t you keep the nightingale as a domestic bird?

In some countries, it is totally forbidden to keep the nightingale as a domestic bird, as it is accustomed to freedom. The penalty for having a nightingale in captivity can be a high fine or even imprisonment.

legal nightingale

However, it is possible to have a specimen in captivity when it is intended for reproduction or if you have special permits. Although there are many types of nightingales that are destined as domestic birds, as with the Japanese nightingale. So if you’re looking for a nightingale as a pet, you should try one of these.

If I get a nightingale, what do I need to know about his care?

In the case of getting a nightingale, its care really doesn’t differ much from that of a canary or parakeet. They need a large cage, which are rectangular or square, as oval and square-shaped cages stress them out. With bars that are no more than 0.5 mm apart to prevent them from sticking their heads between them.

They are quite active birds, so inside the cage they will need to have some natural perches or branches (avoid plastic perches at all costs), with some toys. It is best for a nightingale to have a companion of the same species so that he does not feel alone in the cage.

mockingbird bird

The cage must always be located at the same eye height, with two of the cage walls attached to the wall on which it is hung. Avoid balconies, kitchens and galleries at all costs. It is best to place it in the living room or bedroom. Also, look for an area that is less sunny and less drafty and less drafty, which can cause the bird to catch a cold.

Can you take a nightingale out of his cage?

It is true that there are many birds that can be taken out of their cages when they are trained, and even have them living in the wild. However, this is not the case with a nightingale.

This bird can gain confidence with its master, but not enough to not try to escape to a “bigger” world than what it has behind a wall of bars. So if you try to get him to eat out of your hand, be very careful if you decide to take him out, because he’s likely to try to take off.

In case he’s escaped, you’ll need patience to put him back in the cage. Close all the windows and doors so he doesn’t run away from the room. Don’t try to catch him with your hands, because that will only make him more nervous. The best thing is to put some food he likes in his cage to tempt him and let him come back on his own.

What does a nightingale eat?

The feeding of a nightingale is composed especially of soft and small insects, such as larvae, worms, spiders or small cockroaches. They are the ones who hunt them, so you will have to leave them on the floor of the cage so that they can be hunted.

nightingale eating

They can also eat some seeds and fruits, as long as they are small and well chopped so that it is not difficult for them to chew them with their beaks. But if you want him to stay healthy, you’re going to have to give him the bugs, that’s the best way to feed.

Water is also very important. Change it a couple of times a day so you always have fresh water. It is best to have a bowl of water that can be grabbed from the outside, so that you don’t have an escape route.

How often do you have to clean your cage?

One of the main problems with having a nightingale as a pet is that when feeding on insects, cleaning your cage is very important. The nightingale won’t eat all the insect, but will leave debris lying around, so you’ll have to clean the cage a couple of times a week.

Disinfect the tray area well, to prevent parasites from appearing and then being ingested by your nightingale or attacking its feathers. The bars of the cage are also important to disinfect with a little bit of bleach. To avoid problems with the tray floor, it is best to use cat litter or special litter to make it easier to clean.

The behaviour of the nightingale

Since the nightingale is such a scary bird, you’ll have a hard time gaining his trust. It is not impossible, of course, especially for specimens destined for captivity. The best thing is to get an egg about to hatch, so that the nightingale can have the imprint of your face and consider you as its “mother”.

But in the case of getting a young specimen, that’s when your patience will be tested. It is a very active bird inside the cage and likes to sing a lot. Although their singing can be quite harmonious, it can also be very heavy, as they sing during the daytime hours and sometimes even at night, which can be a nuisance.

exotic bird

It’s not a bird that fits very well with humans, and the most normal thing is that when it sees you appear in the room it will hide somewhere in the cage it has chosen. So, to get her to appreciate you a little, it’s best to go up to the cage and say a few words to her every day, until she gets used to your voice and presence.

At no time should we forget that the nightingale is a migratory bird, which is why it is considered a cruelty and crime to have some members of this species in captivity. So before you get your hands on one, you have to be absolutely sure that it is a bird that will be able to withstand the changes in temperature. He thinks that they migrate in winter in search of warmer climates. The arrival of such a sudden change of temperature, without being able to migrate, could mean the end of your nightingale. So keep that in mind.

When do nightingales reproduce?

The nightingale begins to reproduce at the beginning of spring, which is why some consider it to be the “advertiser of the arrival of this season”. At the beginning of this one, the males emit a very harmonious song that can only be heard at night. Young people learn this song by listening to adults. Thus, the nightingale attracts a female to fulfill the mating ritual.

The female is the one who builds the nest, in bushes and hidden areas where there is not too much height. There it will lay 5 to 6 eggs of a colour similar to that of the olives. After incubation, for about 20-25 days. When they are 12 days old, it is time for them to leave the nest.

nightingale eggs

In the case of their reproduction in captivity, they will need a wooden box or a hut. These can be purchased at any specialist pet shop. You don’t have to be nervous because one chick takes longer than another to hatch, as the female lays one egg a day and usually rests the next day from laying. This time difference means that the chicks are born a day or two apart.

When they are three weeks old, you have to separate the chicks from the parents in a separate module. In it, at first, feed them with baby pasta, and little by little you can put insects in their cage, so that they get used to eating something more consistent.

Why are nightingales so appreciated?

The truth is that the nightingales are a bird with a long history. In some countries it is considered a symbol of love, while in others it is a bird that serves to identify the arrival of spring.

bird in nature

For example, in France, in the county of Nice, its Nightingale was kept flying on traditional borders and May rounds. In addition, this bird inspired Tchaikovsky to compose his 10-2 opus. Not to mention that the writer John Keats wrote them an Ode.

What are the diseases a nightingale can suffer from?

Because the nightingale is not such a strong bird, and is not used to living in colder environments, it is not uncommon for it to suffer from a disease. Among the most common are the following:


  • Infectious Coryza: It is produced by the bacteria called haemophilus gallinarum. The bird begins to show sneezing and discharge from the eyes and sinuses. This can cause loss of vision in birds. It is a typical disease of chickens and roosters, but it can also affect caged birds.
  • Depression: Since the nightingale is a bird born to live in the wild, with the exception of a few individuals, it is very likely to show symptoms of depression when it is in the cage for the first few days. The best way to keep you from feeling depressed is to have a companion in the cage, so that you can live happily ever after.
  • Fracture: It is quite rare for a nightingale to break a leg or wing, but it is not impossible for it to happen. Especially if it is such an active bird, a bad movement can cause a fracture. In these cases, it is best to take him to the vet to have the fracture treated immediately.
  • Constipation or colds: Remember that the nightingale is not used to low temperatures, so if the cage is located in an area with many drafts, sooner or later it will get constipated. In these cases you should take him to a warmer place and put some antibiotics in the water.
  • Diarrhea: It’s not a bad thing that you want to give fruit to your nightingale. However, if the food is very high in fiber, the bird may end up with diarrhea. Remember, on the other hand, that diarrhea can also be a symptom of another illness. So when you start to check for it, take it quickly to your vet for a check-up.
  • Encephalomyelitis: This is caused by an itchy virus, and attacks especially the youngest specimens. It is one of the most common diseases in domestic birds. You will have tremors, hesitant movement, and progressive paralysis in some parts of your body. There is no cure, so the animal would have to be slaughtered. Normally, if the bird is vaccinated, it will not affect those who will be its offspring.
  • Epilepsy: It may not seem like a fairly common disease in birds, but it can happen. It is a disease that paralyzes the nightingale for a certain period of time. There’s no cure for it.
  • Constipation: Just as your nightingale may suffer from diarrhea, so may your nightingale suffer from constipation. This may be the symptom of another illness, so try giving her a soft diet for a couple of days. If it doesn’t work, take it to the vet quickly.
  • Parasites: Since the nightingale feeds especially on small insects, it is not surprising that parasites can appear inside its cage. Because of this, cleaning the cage is important. In the case of internal parasites, the nightingale will lose its appetite and feel depressed. If they are external, he will try to pull out his feathers with his beak to eliminate the itching he feels. In both cases, they should be taken to your vet for an antibiotic recommendation.
  • Obesity: No matter how active a nightingale may be, if he doesn’t have a good cage with plenty of room to move around or fly around, he will gain weight. And this is not healthy for the bird. He supplements his food with vitamins in the water to control his weight and buys a cage big enough for him to fly whatever he wants.
  • Paralysis: You may find that your nightingale has trouble making some movements that should be very simple for him. That’s because it paralyzes that part of his body. It’s a sign that you’re missing some vitamins in your diet.

Is there anything you need to know before you have a nightingale as a pet?

Even if you think it’s the best idea in the world to have a nightingale as a pet, don’t forget that first of all you have to have some things in mind:

  • In some countries it is totally forbidden to have some species of nightingales as pets, so check out what they are in a cage before going to the pet shop.
  • The best way to get a nightingale to trust you is to acquire an egg that is about to hatch. You can get these from a professional breeder. When the nightingale is born and sees you, your image will be engraved on it, which will help him to have confidence in you.
  • In the wild, one of the main causes of death of these birds is the hunting of animals such as cats. So if you have cats at home, you should never let them out of their cage. It’s true that some cats aren’t so “violent”, but you can’t risk him hurting your nightingale, can you?
  • Your singing is harmonious, but if you feel very lonely you may sing at night and it can be a big nuisance.
  • It can be a bird that tries to escape from its cage several times, so it buys a cage with bars too close together and does not have the space to escape. Also, don’t buy cages where the feeder and watering trough have a door that opens, or it will try to escape through there and could get stuck and die.