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Pigeon Eggs: Why Do Pigeons Abandon Them, When Do They Hatch And More!

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Outdoor & NatureLearn more
Outdoor & NatureLearn more
Pigeons are the most easily found birds, and pigeon eggs are also quite common.

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The pigeon is the world's oldest domesticated bird.

All of us have seen a flock of pigeons at some point in our lives. Some of us have even fed them grains, others have shooed them away, but nobody can say these little birds have not caught their fancy. 

The pigeon bird has contributed significantly to humanity, especially in times of war in the world. In olden times, pigeons were used to communicate messages due to their homing ability. Despite this, today, city pigeons are seen as pests solely because of their droppings. Feral pigeons are invasive in different places in the world, even though they have a good effect on wild bird breeding populations, and serve as an important species of prey birds. However, in some populations, they are considered lucky as well. There have been myths surrounding their droppings, and they are considered lucky. 

However, today's topic of interest is not these mighty birds or what they feed on, but their eggs. 

All of us have read about chicken eggs in our science textbooks, but there wasn't much mention of the pigeon egg, even though both fall into the same category of domesticated birds. Both the eggs are consumable. In fact, in many cultures, pigeon eggs are considered a delicacy. 

So today, we have decided to take matters into our own hands and first dig deeper into the mating of these fascinating creatures and the pigeon egg.

If the following piece of information about pigeons fascinates you, you can further read our other articles about do pigeons eat, and pigeon nest.

How long does it take for a pigeons egg to hatch?

When a pigeon is first about to lay an egg, it can be easily deduced from its changed behavior. 

These behavioral changes can be easily seen in pet pigeons. It is important to note that pigeons make exceptional pets due to their calm behavior and their mild, tolerable noises. The hatching time an egg takes is largely dependent on the mating behavior. So let us closely look into the mating behavior of pigeons.

Generally, pigeons, known as rock doves, are monogamous. They mate with only one partner every season until one or both of them die. Pigeons, unlike other animals, can raise more than one stock and often do so too.

Typically, if the climate is right, a pigeon lays eggs all year round, and these eggs are known to hatch in a period of 18 days. Pigeons mostly live in the vicinity of urban life, and thus their eggs and nests can be easily spotted.

Do pigeons lay eggs without mating?

When it comes to eggs, we often assume that they will always be fertilized since they are a product of the reproduction process. However, this is untrue in the case of birds. 

Many female birds lay unfertilized eggs as well. For example, the chicken egg you eat for breakfast is mostly an unfertilized egg due to its hormones during breeding.

Typically, when it's mating season, a female bird will find a suitable male pigeon to mate with. However, sometimes, when she cannot find one, she still lays the eggs. Unfertilized eggs are a waste of time for the female body and need to be expelled. However, we should remember that these are unfertilized eggs and thus would not hatch. The pigeon, unaware of this, will continue to sit on her eggs until she realizes that the eggs won't hatch. This is when she will abandon the egg.

Why do pigeons abandon their eggs?

Generally, pigeons are excellent parents. They never leave their eggs alone, and there is always a female or a male pigeon to incubate them and guard the nest. However, sometimes pigeons do abandon their eggs, which could be due to multiple factors.

The first one could be the one explained above. Female pigeons abandon their eggs and leave the male partner's nest once they figure out their eggs are not fertilized. Another case where pigeons abandon their eggs is when they figure out that predators are a threat. Pigeon parents also abandon their eggs if they notice humans are coming too close to the nest. This is because, in such cases, either the pigeon is scared for her life, or she presumes the egg to be dead, damaged, or infertile. As a result, pigeon eggs are extremely sensitive to human touch, and as a result, humans should avoid getting too close to their nests.

Pigeon Birth Control

Even though these birds are extremely peaceful, their increased population has started to cause a menace to the urban population. Moreover, as they mainly feed on crop grains, they are also known to destroy crops in rural areas. As a result, people started looking for birth control options for pigeons. Because let's face it, none of us has cold hearts enough to be able to break their nest.

Pigeons are year-round nesters. This means, when given proper food and water in the natural environment, they can raise up to a dozen babies in one year. However, it's easy to limit their stalk size thanks to pigeon birth control.

Known as OvoControl, these pills are pellet-type food that, when fed regularly to pigeons, help produce underdeveloped eggs. When combined with exclusion and other humane measures to discourage roosting and nesting, OvoControl effectively reduces egg hatching rates in pigeons, thereby limiting flock sizes and reducing problems associated with large numbers of pigeons.

Pigeon eggs are relatively smaller in size than others.

Is a pigeon egg safe to eat?

As we stated earlier, pigeon eggs are completely safe to eat. Like all other eggs, they can be boiled, fried, steamed, or poached. In addition, like chicken eggs, pigeon eggs are an excellent source of protein. In some cultures, pigeon eggs are considered food delicacy.

How long can pigeon eggs survive without incubation?

Pigeon eggs require continuous incubation and warmth if you wish to keep them healthy. Without incubation, pigeon eggs survive for as long as four to five days at most in a common environment. However, the egg can sometimes be able to survive for seven days, depending upon the temperature it endures.

What to do if one finds an abandoned pigeon egg?

If the eggs are abandoned, the most common cause is that they are infertile and the female pigeon has left incubating them. In this case, the pigeon knows what it is doing, and you should let the eggs be.

Another scenario could be that the eggs are dead. In this case, the eggs are not going to hatch. You can check for a dead egg by checking its temperature. If it is too cold, it is likely to be dead.

The third scenario could be finding a lone egg or a group of eggs lying away from their nests. In such a case, carefully pick the eggs and place them back in the nest to return to their family.

If you plan to hatch pigeon eggs on your own, you can use an incubator to incubate them. However, hatching an egg and raising an avian into adulthood are two different stories. A human-raised pigeon will be far weaker than one raised in a natural environment.

How to work out if there is a live pigeon chick in the egg?

There are various ways to establish whether there is an alive chick inside abandoned eggs. For this, you can start by listening to the eggs. Give it a tap and listen closely. If the egg is close to hatching, you will notice some movement. Another suitable method is candling. Place the egg in a dark room in front of bright light. If you see no veins or a baby pigeon inside, it's a dead egg, and hatching won't occur. 

Call the local wildlife authorities when you find an egg with a live baby pigeon. They will be able to find the pigeon an appropriate home and nest. 

If you are inclined to breed the baby pigeon yourself, place it inside an incubator to hatch after making sure that the embryo is fine. An incubator is like a human-made nest—a nest with temperature and humidity control. Nesting is required to successfully take care of eggs since eggs are very sensitive to heat, providing them with the appropriate temperature and humidity. Place the incubator in an undisturbed location. Soon the eggs would hatch, and you would need to take care of the baby pigeons. They would require food every two to three hours and care to maintain good health.

 Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for pigeon eggs, then why not take a look at how long do pigeons live or pigeon facts

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The Kidadl Team is made up of people from different walks of life, from different families and backgrounds, each with unique experiences and nuggets of wisdom to share with you. From lino cutting to surfing to children’s mental health, their hobbies and interests range far and wide. They are passionate about turning your everyday moments into memories and bringing you inspiring ideas to have fun with your family.

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