How Long Do Pigeon Eggs Take to Hatch?

Pigeons mate for life and generally lay a clutch of two eggs. They will incubate the eggs for up to 21 days but on average, pigeon eggs hatch on the 18th day. If you keep pigeons, here is a guide to the pigeon mating process and egg production from start to finish.

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pigeon sitting on eggs

Mating Behaviors

If you know which mating behaviors to look for, you will know when you might expect some eggs to be laid.

Generally, pigeons 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).


This article was written by our qualified veterinarian Cristina.

This is part of our commitment to providing you with the most trustworthy veterinary advice for your pigeons.

Nesting Habits

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.

pigeon and egg

Pigeons, unlike other birds, don’t generally build their nests in a tree.

Instead, you’ll find pigeon nests in out-of-the-way places out of sight of people and predators like ledges under a bridge or a flat rooftop. 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. This gives the pair plenty of space to take care of the eggs, as well as the babies once they hatch.

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.

Pigeon Eggs

In most cases, a female pigeon will lay two eggs in her nest or two in each of her nests.

pigeon eggs in a nest

The eggs are usually small and white and while both pigeons will help incubate the eggs, the female will do most of the work.

The female may spend more than 24 hours sitting on her eggs, only then allowing the male to take a turn so she can eat and sleep.

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.

Note: It is not common to use a pigeon egg incubator to hatch pigeon squabs because it is difficult to successfully hand rear pigeon chicks however if you find an abandoned egg, an incubator is the best way of ensuring the egg’s survival.

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.

Pigeon Eggs Not Hatching After 21 Days?

Unhatched pigeon eggs are not uncommon. It is said that 10–15 percent of nests contain eggs that will never hatch.

In the natural course of things, a pigeon will incubate their egg for up to 18-20 days hoping for it to hatch.

After this time, generally, they will abandon the egg.

This does not mean that the chick is dead. Pigeon chicks can still hatch after 21 days.

Typically, in a temperate climate, an egg can last as long as 7 days without incubation. If you are unsure you can keep the egg warm.

If the egg hasn’t hatched after the 26th day, it is extremely unlikely it will ever hatch.

Check the egg to see if you can hear any sounds from a live chick and use the “candle test” (shine a light into the egg) before you dispose of the egg.

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.

The Difference Between Pigeon and Dove Egg Hatching Time

Although they are from the same family, there are a few differences between doves and pigeons and one of them is egg hatching time.

It’s not a major difference. While pigeon eggs on average take 18 days to hatch, dove eggs take 14 days.

Cristina Vulpe

Cristina hold a Ph.D. in Veterinary Oncology and co-authored a scientific presentation on the Radiological Contrast Studies of the Digestive Tractus in Pigeons which was published by the European Society of Radiology. She is responsible for writing our health-related articles and ensuring that any medical information published is correct.

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