From leftovers to rice and seeds to people feeding them, pigeons are thriving in cities on human food. And with so much food around, pigeons spend a lot less time foraging for food and a lot more time breeding. But when do pigeons lay eggs, and when do pigeons stop laying eggs, and when do they begin hatching? Here’s the answer to it.
The Short Answer…
As of 6 months old, female pigeons start laying eggs when they are sexually matured, paired, nutritious, and healthy. After which, the pigeon’s pair reproduce, and within 8 -12 days, the female pigeon lays eggs. A pigeon typically lays 2 eggs a month and 24 eggs a year and breeds 8 times a year. Each time, it takes 17 – 18 days for pigeons to incubate and hatch the eggs. A pigeon’s egg is on average 3 cm to 4 cm but differs between species. The female pigeon is called a “hen” and the male pigeon is called a ” cock” and young dependant pigeons are commonly known as “squabs”.
Cities are essentially tailor-made for pigeons. It provides them food and their native range of rocky seaside cliffs by having tall buildings and places for pigeons to nest in such as fire escapes or AC units. And with millions of pigeons living in every city, millions of nests are built. If you live in a city no matter where in the city, you have probably seen pigeons in their nest which means they are incubating their eggs or raising their young, unlike raccoons.
While pigeons clearly nest in different places, not everybody has seen them, in fact, most of the people. That is obviously due to their weird and high nesting places they live in which leads to some people think they do not breed which isn’t fact. It is simply because baby pigeons stay more than other birds and leave the nest when they are the same like their parents. But when do pigeons lay eggs? How often they lay eggs? How long does it take? And more. Here’s the break down.
When Do Pigeons Lay Eggs?
As early as 6 months old, female pigeons typically lay their first eggs when they are sexually matured. Some pigeons may lay eggs as early as 5 months old, and some pigeons may lay eggs as late as 9 months old. It really depends on the pigeon, the diet of the pigeon, and the type of pigeon. If you have a pigeon which is about 6 months old and hasn’t laid eggs yet, don’t worry, it can take upto 9 months.
Female pigeons lay eggs and breed only after they have reached sexually mature and mate with a male pigeon. Even though pigeons lay eggs without mating with a partner, they would still need to be completely matured. However, they do not need a specific season to do it, unlike squirrels. Pigeons can breed at any season of the year but they usually breed in spring and fall just like their mating. Because pigeons produce crop milk for their young year-round.
Also, make sure you provide essential and nutritious food specifically seeds particularly for pigeons, and with clean water. Lacking one of these may result in pigeons taking more than typical time to mature, mate, lay eggs, and breed.
Signs That Pigeons Will Lay Eggs
Watching bird’s eggs is just as exciting as having a new baby in your house especially their first egg. And that’s why you might be super excited to see as soon as the pigeon has laid its eggs. In addition to the age, maturity, pairing, and mating, here are some signs you can determine when the pigeon is near to lay eggs.
- When the female pigeon is near to lay eggs, she gains weight and will be heavier than before.
- The female pigeon will spend more time in the nest and become aggressive and protective, vocalizing and backing into a corner.
- In order to fulfill the necessities, the pigeon will drink more water to gain the liquid creating the egg.
- Soon before the pigeon lay eggs, it may have larger and smellier droppings, unlike squirrel’s droppings.
How Many Eggs Do Pigeons Lay?
A pigeon typically lays two small white eggs but rarely produces three eggs at a time but not at once in a day. Once the first egg is out, the second egg is laid on the next day. If the pigeon is to lay the third egg which is not usual, the pigeon would lay the egg on the following day. However, if you have never seen a pigeon laid 3 eggs at a time, then your lucky day has not come yet.
If the pigeon has laid a third egg which is smaller than those, it is probably infertile which means without paired and interference of the male pigeon. However, if there are four eggs in the nest, it’s definitely due to both the pigeons are female which means all the eggs are infertile that will not breed. You may change the pair with a male and female pigeon and the same with another pigeon.
How Often Do Pigeons Lay Eggs?
Laying two eggs a month, a pigeon lays twelve eggs a year but can be more or less than that. But the usual routine is pigeon laying eggs with a break of one month.
But not all the eggs will hatch and come with baby pigeons which means the eggs are either infertile or failed intubation. This could be due to broken pairs, the mother not incubating the eggs, or due to some health issues.
Any of these can result in some eggs not hatch but others will probably hatch. It’s unusual and quite rare and to have all the eggs hatch. Though pigeons can lay eggs and breed all the year, they mostly lay eggs when the weather is warm. In the cold, it’s unlikely to see eggs.
When the pigeon has come up with eggs, it will incubate and hatch it. As soon as the hatching is finished, the mother will prepare for the next round of breeding by laying eggs within two weeks. It might be quite exciting and interesting to see it this soon, it’s thrilling but its better to give pigeons a break and let them relax for a few times. You can simply apart from the female pigeon from the male to make a break from breeding.
Without break, pigeon laying eggs will have a hard time producing unfertile eggs, and the mother pigeon unhealthy. Give pigeons a break every time after they have bred for the best results.
What Time Of Year Do Pigeons Lay Eggs?
Just like breeding, pigeons lay eggs in the warm weather more often than in cold weather.
What Time Of Day Do Pigeons Lay Eggs?
Like most birds, pigeons mostly lay eggs during the evening between 5 pm – 8 pm but they can lay any time of the day.
Why Pigeons Do Not Lay Eggs?
If your pigeon but still does not lay eggs, here are the main reasons for it.
- The pigeon hasn’t fully grown up and has not reached 6 months yet. While pigeons mate at 3 or 4 months, they are not capable of laying eggs. You should never expect to see pigeon eggs before 6 months old.
- The pigeon has not found a pair yet or the pigeon pair is broke up. If a pigeon doesn’t have a pair or has broke up with its pair, it will not lay eggs.
- Pairing two males. This is the funny one. If you do not have experience and cannot distinguish between male and female pigeons, chances are you might have paired with male pigeons.
- If the pigeon is old enough and paired but still does not lay eggs, then the pigeon diet is not nutritious. And there is lack of vitamin or calcium why the female pigeon stops laying eggs.
Other than these, pigeons may also stop breeding or laying eggs due to health issues, housing change, and distress by predators like a cat.
What Do Pigeon Eggs Look Like?
Typically, pigeon’s eggs are small and white, larger than canary, and some birds eggs. Some pigeon species eggs are pale blue or brown and come with dark spots or dots. With that though, color of the eggs differs between domestic and wild pigeons. Scientists studying and researching pigeons indicate that temperature affects a bird’s egg’s color.
Like pigeons living in the warmth of your home eggs may be lighter whereas pigeons living in the wild eggs are darker even brown because the darker color will attract more heat helping the egg in a higher temperature to protect the baby from cold and a successful incubation period. That’s how pigeons are able to recognize their eggs from others.
Can Pigeon Lay Eggs Without Pairing/Mating?
Yes, definitely. Like chickens, pigeons can lay eggs without mating that the eggs will be infertile meaning they will not hatch.
When a pigeon is sexually matured (around 6 months), it will be ready to lay eggs. Even though a pigeon starts mating and pairing at the age of 4, if the pigeon hasn’t found yet a suitable partner or broke with its pair by 6 months old, it will most likely lay eggs without a partner. Unlike most birds, pigeons are monogamous and mate for life. This means, unless the partner was killed or died, the pair won’t break.
From 4 months old, a pigeon usually starts finding a mate and by a month or two, it will successfully pair with it. By the time the pigeon is six months old, it will likely have pair and start laying eggs. But if it didn’t have a pair which is not unusual it will lay eggs without mating and without its pair.
The mother starts incubating the egg for nearly 3 weeks but the eggs won’t hatch obviously because she hasn’t mated and the eggs are not fertile.
How Big Is A Pigeon Egg?
A typical pigeon’s egg is about 3 – 4 cm long. But differs between pigeon species. Bigger pigeon lays bigger eggs like the king pigeon. It is quite smaller than a chicken egg nearly half of a chicken’s egg.
Pigeon Breeding Process
As soon as the female pigeon is around 6 months and sexually matured, (which is 4 – 5 months for male pigeons), they are ready for breeding. Just like every other bird, they have a proper breeding process that is the following.
Preparing For Breeding
Watching a pigeon’s egg sounds boring but is actually the most exciting part of breeding. When you pigeon’s egg especially for the first time, you can’t wait to see the result, it’s so much exciting than it seems. Here’s how it happens.
When the female pigeon is around 6 months old, it will find a male pigeon to pair with. At this point, many pigeons have ended up with a male pigeon. Once they have mated, after 8 – 12 days, the pigeon will start laying eggs.
Meanwhile, both male and female pigeons will start creating a wonderful nest. First, they will choose a supposedly perfect place that will be high, dark and all the ways closed with only one way open. They then collect and decorate their nest with leaves, sticks and grasses. When the nest is ready, the male pigeon will soft make coo sounds inviting female pigeon to the nest.
Unlike some birds, male pigeons will take care of the female and raise the young along with its mother. The female pigeon then comes to the nest and sits in all the time except for food and water. On this point, take care the pigeons more than usual by providing proper food, seeds, and other nutritious food and clean water.
In addition to protecting the nest and the female pigeon, male pigeon continue decorating the nest and keep supporting the female. In this period, both male and female are very protective of their nest and won’t let any other pigeon approach or enter. If you or any other pigeon or bird gets close or move into their nest, they will probably start fighting with them.
But if you are breeding pigeons in a cage, after they have mated and paired with a male pigeon, create a beautiful nest for the pigeons preferably higher than the ground with the same materials they would do. Do not make the nest very different from their native nest to make them feel safe and comfortable.
Pigeon Laying Eggs
After the nest is created and the female pigeon is about to lay its first egg, most of the time she will be inside the nest. The male continues protecting the nest and its female. At this point, the pigeon will lay its first egg typically in the evening. If you have never seen a pigeon laying egg, now is the time to do it. It’s so much loving, believe me.
After a day or two, you will see the second egg. Usually, there is no third egg but if you see the third egg which is unusual, chances are it is unfertile. When the pigeon has dropped eggs, she will constantly sit on the eggs. It’s so beautiful to watch, show it even to your kids and every other family member. They will probably enjoy it.
Both the pigeons will continue protecting the pigeon, when the female is out for food, the male protects the eggs and vice versa. The mother now incubates and sits on the eggs, protects, and won’t leave the eggs alone any time of the day except for food that the eggs are protected by the male pigeon.
Pigeons Eggs Incubation
After the eggs are dropped, the pigeons will now go ahead and incubate the eggs. As they were already protecting the eggs, they will now start protecting them more than before. Just like raising a baby, the female pigeon now incubates the eggs and sits on the eggs all day and the male pigeon protects the eggs and female from outside of the nest and acts as a shield.
When one of them goes for food or any other necessities, the other one will replace with it and continue incubating the eggs. The protection is so strict that no other pigeon is able to enter. If a pigeon attempts to enter, you will see it encountering with the male pigeon.
The male pigeon incubates the eggs in the daytime when the female pigeon usually goes out for food. And the female pigeon returns and incubates the eggs all night. The same routine continues for the next day and is repeated until the eggs hatch. This cycle continues for 17 – 19 days but after 5 – 7 days of incubation, you should check the eggs if they are fertile or not. You can check it from the steps below.
However, if the pigeon abandons the eggs or dies, the eggs can only survive for 5 at most 7 days without incubation. Longer than that, the eggs will be wasted and won’t hatch. And keeping the eggs in a warm place or refrigerator won’t work, unlike chicken eggs that people do.
The only way these eggs would hatch is either by putting the eggs under another pigeon or in an incubator machine.
Pigeon Egg Hatching
This is the most beautiful part I always love to see. If you have followed until this point, I suggest you not missing this part. You will be amazed!
After 17 to 19 days, the eggs will begin to hatch. By this point, the eggs have already some minor cracks which show the babies inside it is impatiently waiting to come out. However, the time has come to an end and the babies will be out soon.
When the eggs are ready to hatch, the baby cracks the egg by making a hole. Once a crack is there, it becomes easy for baby easier to hatch it so the baby will now move itself slowly and the cracks become larger and the same goes on until the egg hatchs and the baby comes out of the egg completely.
It will take more than an hour, a couple of hours. After it’s done, both the babies will be out. The mother will also help clean the eggshells by cracking and moving them outside but it’s better to do with your hands properly.
While the eggshells are pretty hard and sharp, they may harm the baby so just remove the eggshells as quick as possible after the hatching is finished. After the babies are out, the parents are quite happy and make interesting sounds talking with their babies, and as well as becomes more protective than before.
The mother then feeds crop milk to the babies and keeps them warm under her wings as they need quite heat. Like a humans baby, pigeons baby’s body temperature is quite higher than adults and they require maintaining the temperature to grow and stay alive. If you’re breeding the pigeons outside in the cold, you should probably bring them inside at this point.
How Long Does It Take For Pigeons To Hatch?
A typical pigeon incubates about 17 to 19 days for eggs to hatch. But some pigeons take longer and some sooner depending on the pigeon’s species specifically temperature. As every pigeon’s species has different temperatures and so differs their hatching duration. The higher the temperature they maintain, the sooner the eggs hatch. But it isn’t in control of the pigeons neither their parents. The parents will work so hard in the incubation process that you will ever see.
However, if the pigeon has health issues and becomes ill, the incubation period may take longer or even fail depending on the pigeon’s condition specifically the temperature. Meaning, if the pigeon is ill, it won’t be able to incubate properly specifically maintain the required tempurature of the eggs. As a result, the eggs will either take longer to hatch or may do not hatch at all.
Why Pigeon Eggs Are Not Hatching?
Just because a pigeon lays eggs doesn’t mean all the eggs will hatch. In five to seven days of incubation, check the fertility of the eggs. You will come to know if the eggs are fertile and the baby is being made inside the egg. If one or both of the eggs seems fertile, it is likely for those eggs to hatch.
But if the eggs do not hatch after 20 – 25 days of incubation, they will likely not hatch. But it can also happen during incubation. I have seen some pigeon’s eggs not being hatched and dying during baby pigeons during hatching. Once in a while this happens and if this happens with your pigeons, don’t worry, it isn’t because of you and there’s nothing you can do about it.
If you provide a nice nest, nutritious food, and a matching pair, you are unlikely to face this, but if you do encounter this situation after that, its not your fault, and also that’s not the last time they will breed. They will soon lay other eggs and continue to breed and following the steps and providing the necessaries, you will probably have a successful breeding.
But things can go wrong due to the following reasons.
- Infertile eggs.
- Not incubating properly by its mother
- Mother is ill and couldn’t incubate properly
- Water poured on the eggs.
- Sick pigeon
- Not perfect partner
- Low-quality food for the mother pigeon
- Babies not powerful enough to hatch the eggshells
- Abandoning their eggs
How to Check Pigeon Eggs Fertility?
While pigeons can lay eggs without mating, it is important to check egg fertility for breeding. Once the pigeon has dropped all the eggs, write down the date. After 5 or 6 days, you can check the eggs if they are fertile or not. If you have had a successful pair, the eggs will be likely fertile otherwise it may be infertile. But the eggs can also be infertile if the pigeon hadn’t pair despite you had put them inside a cage.
Start with taking one of the eggs carefully in the dark. If the nest is bright, you may need to take it to the dark a little bit. Its better to do it in the day as in the night, the mother will be sitting on the eggs and might end up fighting and biting you. Then take out your phone and turn on the flashlight. Take the flashlight from the back of the egg or you can put the flashlight and the egg on it. You can check it there within the nest or on another place.
If the egg was fertile, you will see red zig-zag lines like the root of the tree inside the egg. But if the egg was not fertile, you will see the egg with a simple dark yellow inside it without red lines or something like roots. See the shot.
With this method, you will come to know if the egg is fertile or not. And you should only do this after a few days of the eggs laid. You can do it later than that but not sooner because the egg won’t have the signs and you will think it is infertile. If you check after 6 days of the eggs laid, you will find the fertility but it will be late and if the egg was not fertile, you will lose some time and it may also disturb the mother if you do it late because she will become more protective.
As a result, if the eggs were fertile, it’s fine, just put it in the nest and let the mother incubate. Otherwise, if one or both of the eggs were infertile, then, unfortunately, they won’t hatch so you would need to remove the eggs from the nest. Because if you do not remove the eggs, the mother will keep incubating the eggs regardless of the eggs are fertile or not. If the eggs were not fertile, it won’t hatch and so you will lose so much time.
And if the egg(s) were infertile and you remove them soon after 5 or 6 days, the pigeon will incubate the only fertile egg that will hatch. But if both the eggs were infertile, remove both of them. You can even eat them, it’s delicious. That way, soon the pair will be getting ready for another round of breeding and will soon lay eggs, actually sooner than the first time.
The fertility checkup finds out if there’s a pigeon inside the egg or not but there’s no way for finding out the baby pigeon’s sex, like humans do. There’s no technology or way to know the sex of the pigeon inside the egg. Not even experienced people could give you the accurate answer but usually, out of two eggs, one is male and one is female but that isn’t always like that.
Can We Eat Pigeons Egg?
Yes, definitely. Same like pigeons meat, you can eat pigeons egg without any problem. It is healthy, safe, and beneficial. In fact, it improves the energy flow in our body and improves skin conditions.
If you want to eat pigeon egg, you will probably want to cook more than one egg (ideally 3 – 4 eggs) as pigeons egg is quite smaller than chicken eggs and 3 – 4 eggs is similar to one egg. You can also eat it by boiling in the water. You will have the eggs less the white part but will probably have the yellow part.
How it tastes is different in people. Some people call it delicious whereas some people describe it as awful.
How Many Babies Do Pigeons Have?
When pigeons breed, a pigeon will usually have two babies but rarely three. The babies come out of the eggs so if a pigeon has two eggs, it might have two babies and usually, they have two eggs and rarely three but most times, the third egg is infertile or smaller which won’t hatch.
Why Do Pigeons Abandon Their Eggs?
Though pigeons are unlikely to abandon their eggs, they only abandon their eggs for some reason. If you have seen a pigeon incubating eggs, you would probably argue and won’t accept that they will abandon their eggs as every egg is a baby for the mother and she won’t compromise it in any way except a few reasons.
As typically pigeons only leave when the incubation period has finished, they won’t leave in between this process. Or they may also abandon the eggs if the eggs didn’t hatch after the incubation process, it will abandon the eggs. But these are the usual cases which you might know about. Other than these, there are probably some cases which pigeons abandon their eggs.
- Moving the eggs or nest – If a pigeon lays eggs and you move the nest maybe from one cage or another or even inside the cage, pigeons may abandon their nest and the eggs no matter what.
- Scared of something – If you disturb the pigeon more or less by touching the eggs or touching the pigeon and is scared of you, your voice, or anything else, it will probably leave the eggs alone.
- Partner dying – If the pigeon or the partner dies, chances are the pigeon will abandon the eggs.
- Due to predators – If a pigeon spots a predator even if its in the cage, it may abandon the nest with eggs both.
When Do Pigeons Mate? How Often?
As soon as the pigeon is about 3- 4 months, it will start finding a mate and pair with another. Pigeons can mate and breed any time of the year but they usually mate in spring and fall.
When Do Pigeons Breed?
Although pigeons can breed any time of the year, they mostly breed spring and fall when the weather is warm. They also lay eggs more often in the warm weather than col. But if you keep pigeons warm in the cold like in a house, they will keep laying eggs and breeding just like spring and fall.
Things To Consider For A Successful Pigeon Breeding
- Make a successful pair. You cannot put a random male pigeon and a random female pigeon and expect them to be a perfect pair. Even though they might seem a perfect pair to you, but actually, some female won’t make with another male just like us.
- NOT MEDICATING! Do not give unnecessary and self-prescribed medications to pigeons for small things like watery droppings or something like that. Some medications can affect the worst on the pigeon and the eggs and even end up killing the pigeon.
- Give proper nutritious food and fresh water, just like how squirrels get.
While pigeons grow pretty fast, they breed by laying eggs and do it very beautifully. Pigeons can mate, lay eggs and breed any time of the year but mostly happens in spring and fall. But before they need to choose a pair and mate with it which is the sensitive part. As pigeons mate for life, they are very sensitive in choosing their pair.
After that, they will step into laying eggs, incubating and hatching it. But if the pigeon ends up without partner, it may lay eggs but that will not hatch, because the eggs will be infertile which you can then eat.