HUFFINGTON POST
07/12/2012 03:26 pm ET

Kurdistan's Pigeon Keepers (VIDEO)

In a small tea house in Erbil, in the Kurdish Region of Iraq, dozens of men gather at night to discuss their life passions. However, it's not their wives or jobs they're talking about; it's their pigeons.

"Just like a person who falls in love with a girl or loves Kurdistan or loves sports, I love my pigeons in the same way," says Khidir Koshnaw, who has been raising pigeons since the 70s. "I love my pigeons as much as I love the songs I sing and my country."

These pigeons reportedly live for 12-13 years and can range in price from $100 to thousands of dollars.

"The happiest time for me is when a pigeon has babies," one of the tea house guests says.

The documentary, titled The Pigeon Keepers Of Kurdistan and available above, is part of a series of short films collected by StoriesFrom.us, a new project that has gathered dozens of local stories from around the world.

Bird-keeping has long been a popular hobby in Iraq, The LA Times notes. Pigeon-breeding reportedly took off in the early 1900s when the British presence in Iraq connected the country to other regions where bird-keeping was popular, such as Iran and India. Yet as the Times points out, closed borders and international sanctions under the regime of former dictator Saddam Hussein made pigeon-breeding difficult.

Kurds make up 15-20 percent of Iraq's population. The Kurdish community has established a semi-autonomous region in the north of the country with Erbil as its capital. Disputes over oil and territory have complicated the region's relationship with Baghdad.

Watch The Pigeon Keepers Of Kurdistan above and check out more mini-documentaries from around the world by StoriesFrom.us here.

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