This is an excellent question if you have pet pigeons and would like to try breeding them. Generally, you’ll need to wait 18 days (give or take) for a pigeon egg to hatch.
Pigeons make great pets because they are mild-mannered and make soft, tolerable noises. You may find that you really enjoy having them around your house.
However, if you have more than one, and they are mixed genders, you should know what to expect in terms of egg-laying and babies hatching. Here’s a guide to help.
If you know which mating behaviors to look for, you will know when you might expect some eggs to be laid.
Generally, pigeons, which are also called rock doves, are monogamous and will mate every season with the same partner until one or both of them dies. Unlike other animals, pigeons can raise more than one brood each season and often do.
As long as the climate is right, pigeons can mate and lay eggs year round so this is something to be aware of.
Males usually decide which female pigeon they want to mate with and then show off to her as part of the mating ritual. A male pigeon’s cooing sounds will change as he woos the female and struts around trying to get her attention.
If the female pigeon reciprocates, she becomes friendly with the male and the pair finds a place to build a nest together. This is where the pigeons will mate and the female will lay her eggs (usually up to 3 at a time).
To begin the nesting process, the male pigeon will select a location and bring a single stick back to signal to the female where he’s chosen to build a nest. Then, together they will complete the nest.
Pigeons, unlike other birds, don’t generally build their nests in a tree. Instead, they use out of the way ledges, such as under a bridge, or a flat rooftop out of sight of people and predators.
They might also be found in barns, along rafters or along the ledges of tall buildings. You can identify a pigeon nest because it’s shaped like a saucer, is 11 to 12 inches in diameter, and is usually constructed of only leaves and stems.
In some cases, a pair of mating pigeons will have two nests in which a couple of eggs are laid in each. This gives the pair plenty of space to take care of the eggs, as well as the babies once they hatch.
A pigeon’s nest is often called a squab and the female will generally sit in the nest for a few days before she actually lays an egg.
In many cases, pigeon pairs may reuse their nest or build a new nest at the same site for each subsequent brood.
Keep this in mind if you breed pigeons so that they are able to follow their natural instincts when it comes to preparing their nest for eggs and babies.
In most cases, a female pigeon will lay two eggs in her nest or two in each of her nests.
The eggs are usually small and white and, while both pigeons will help incubate the eggs, the female will do most of the work in that regard.
Most incubating happens between the mid-afternoon to mid-morning hours.
Incubation and Hatching
Most pigeon eggs will be incubated for about 18 days before the babies hatch. Again, both the male and female will take turns incubating the eggs during this time period.
After hatching, baby pigeons generally stay in the nest for up to 29 days, sometimes even longer. This is much longer than most other bird species and because baby pigeons look very similar to the adults when they leave the nest, most people don’t see baby pigeons.
During their time in the nest, baby pigeons grow very quickly and the mother and father must provide constant nourishment to keep them alive and help them grow.
Baby pigeons, also called squabs, are fed crop milk, which is a regurgitated mixture of liquid food produced by the parent birds. After about 10 days, baby pigeons eat less crop milk and more traditional types of pigeon food that the mother and father bring back to the nest for them.
Also read: How to Care for a Baby Pigeon Properly
When Pigeons Don’t Reproduce
If you are trying to breed your pigeons, it’s important to know that they sometimes aren’t able to reproduce.
If you have a mating pair together but don’t see any eggs or nothing hatches from eggs that are laid, you may have an infertile or barren pigeon.
One way to resolve this issue is to separate the pair and try to get them to mate with other pigeons.
This can sometimes solve the infertility problem and result in healthy hatchlings.
Breeding More Than One Pair
Most pigeons are friendly and enjoy interacting with other pigeons. If you are breeding them, this means you don’t necessarily have to keep the nests away from each other.
In the wild, pigeons often roost and nest in close proximity to one another as often as possible. Allowing this natural process to occur with your pigeons could mean healthier mating habits and strong babies.
The answer to the original question is: pigeon eggs generally take about 18 days to hatch. This can sometimes be shorter or longer but gives you a good idea of what to expect if your pet pigeon mates and lays eggs.
Be sure you allow the natural process to occur unhindered so that the parents are motivated to care for their babies and keep them healthy.