How Long Do Pigeons Sit on Their Eggs? Incubation Period and Parental Roles Explained

How Long Do Pigeons Sit on Their Eggs? Incubation Period and Parental Roles Explained

Ever wondered how long pigeons sit on their eggs? These common birds, often seen in bustling cities and quiet countryside alike, have fascinating nesting habits. Understanding their incubation period not only satisfies curiosity but can also help in pigeon care and management.

In this article, you’ll discover the specifics of a pigeon’s incubation timeline. From the moment the eggs are laid to when the chicks finally hatch, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this crucial period in a pigeon’s life cycle.

Key Takeaways

  • Incubation Duration: Pigeons incubate their eggs for 17-19 days, with both parents sharing the responsibility to maintain optimal temperature.
  • Nesting Preferences: Pigeons prefer elevated and sheltered nesting sites to protect their eggs from predators and adverse weather conditions.
  • Parental Roles: The female pigeon typically incubates the eggs at night, while the male takes over during the day, ensuring constant warmth and protection.
  • Influencing Factors: Temperature, parental health, clutch size, and nesting location can affect the incubation period’s length and success.
  • Cooperative Behavior: The shared incubation duties between male and female pigeons enhance their bond and improve the chances of successful hatching.
  • Unique Traits: Pigeons are unique in their meticulous nest building and the use of crop milk to feed their chicks, distinguishing them from many other bird species.

The Nesting Behavior of Pigeons

Understanding the Nesting Process

Pigeons exhibit distinct nesting behaviors during their reproductive cycle. They start by selecting a mate and then proceed to find an appropriate nesting site. Both partners participate in nest building, contributing materials like twigs and leaves. Once the nest is prepared, the female lays one or two eggs. The incubation period lasts around 17-19 days, during which both parents take turns sitting on the eggs. Consistent incubation ensures that the eggs remain at an optimal temperature for embryo development.

Choosing the Nest Site and Building the Nest

Pigeons prefer sites that offer safety and protection for their nests, often selecting locations that are elevated and sheltered. Common sites include building ledges, bridges, and cliffs. They choose these spots to safeguard their eggs from predators and harsh weather. Both members of the pigeon pair gather materials for the nest. The male typically collects twigs and similar items, while the female arranges them into a secure structure. The nest’s construction is a collaborative effort that solidifies the bond between the pair and ensures a safe environment for their eggs.

How Long Do Pigeons Sit on Their Eggs?

How Long Do Pigeons Sit on Their Eggs?

The Incubation Period

Pigeons sit on their eggs for 17-19 days. Both parents share the incubation duties. Typically, the female incubates the eggs from mid-afternoon until mid-morning, while the male takes over for the remainder of the day. They ensure the eggs stay at a constant temperature, vital for embryo development. If an egg gets too cold or too hot, the embryo’s development could be adversely affected.

During this period, the bond between parent pigeons strengthens as they work together to protect and incubate their eggs. They prefer nesting in elevated, sheltered locations to keep predators at bay and shield their eggs from bad weather. These behavioral traits play a crucial role during the incubation period, ensuring the safety and warmth of the eggs.

Factors Influencing Incubation Duration

Several factors influence the length of the incubation period. Temperature plays a critical role; consistent environmental warmth can slightly shorten the incubation period, while cooler temperatures may extend it. Both parents’ health also impacts the incubation; a stressed or unhealthy pigeon might not maintain the eggs’ optimal temperature, causing delays in embryo development. Just as an airplane needs precise conditions for a successful flight, maintaining the right environment is crucial for the hatching process.

Another essential factor is the clutch size. Typically, pigeons lay two eggs per clutch, but the incubation period could vary slightly if the clutch size deviates from the norm. The location of the nest contributes as well—nests in sheltered, stable environments maintain more consistent temperatures, facilitating ideal incubation conditions. Ensuring the nest is protected from external threats, such as strong winds or predators, is akin to building strong fences to safeguard against potential dangers.

Understanding these factors can help pigeon caregivers ensure the best possible environment for successful hatching. By monitoring temperature, health, and nesting conditions, you can support the natural incubation process effectively. Like setting up a game with perfectly balanced balls, everything needs to be in harmony to achieve the best outcomes. Just as athletes need the right conditions to swim or run efficiently, pigeons require optimal conditions for incubation.

Role of Parent Pigeons During Incubation

Role of Parent Pigeons During Incubation

Shared Responsibilities Between Males and Females

Both male and female pigeons share the duty of incubating the eggs. Typically, the female sits on the eggs during the night, while the male takes over during the day. This shift change ensures the eggs remain warm, maintaining a constant temperature crucial for embryo development. You might notice that this cooperative behavior strengthens the bond between the pair, as they work together diligently to protect their future offspring.

Keeping the Eggs Warm and Protected

Parent pigeons are committed to maintaining the ideal conditions for their eggs. They sit on the eggs almost continuously, only leaving briefly to eat or drink. The adults take turns fluffing their feathers to create an insulating cushion, which helps retain heat around the eggs. This method not only keeps the eggs warm but also guards against potential threats like predators and harsh weather. By ensuring the eggs stay at a stable, warm temperature, parent pigeons significantly increase the chances of successful hatching.

Comparing Pigeon Incubation to Other Birds

Similarities in Bird Incubation Processes

Birds, including pigeons, share several incubation characteristics. Both parents often engage in the incubation process, ensuring constant warmth for the developing embryos. Birds use feathers to insulate their eggs, with the brooding parent creating a cushioned environment. Species like pigeons, robins, and sparrows adopt this cooperative approach.

Clutch size impacts incubation. Domestic pigeons usually incubate two eggs, which resembles clutch sizes of many songbirds. Maintaining a consistent temperature is crucial, with most species keeping the range between 98.6°F and 100°F. The average incubation period across many bird species, such as chickens and doves, varies from 17 to 22 days.

Unique Aspects of Pigeon Incubation

Pigeons exhibit distinct incubation behaviors. Unlike many species, pigeons split incubation duties precisely. Males and females take turns, with females incubating at night and males during the day, balancing parental stress. This pattern strengthens their pair bond.

Pigeons are meticulous about nest location. Elevated and sheltered spots are preferred to protect from predators and harsh weather. Their nests, though simple, are strategic in placement. Pigeons also rely heavily on their crop milk, a nutrient-rich secretion from their crops, to feed newly hatched chicks, a characteristic unique among avian species.

Understanding these unique aspects helps you better support pigeons during their incubation period, ensuring a successful hatching process.


Gaining insight into the incubation habits of pigeons offers a fascinating glimpse into their world. By understanding the shared responsibilities between male and female pigeons, the importance of maintaining optimal temperatures, and the strategic nest placements, you can better support these birds during their critical incubation period. This knowledge not only enhances your appreciation of pigeon behavior but also equips you to contribute to their successful hatching. Whether you’re a bird enthusiast or simply curious, these insights provide a solid foundation for observing and assisting pigeons in their natural environment.

Pigeons typically sit on their eggs for about 18 days until they hatch. Both male and female pigeons share the incubation duties, with the female usually sitting on the eggs from late afternoon through the night, and the male taking over during the day, as noted by MDPI. This shared responsibility ensures that the eggs are kept warm and safe throughout the incubation period. For more details, you can visit Pigeonpedia.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does the pigeon incubation process take?

The incubation period for pigeons typically lasts about 17 to 19 days. Both parents share the responsibility of incubating the eggs during this period.

What temperature is needed for pigeon egg incubation?

Pigeon eggs need a stable temperature of around 98-102°F (37-39°C) to ensure proper development and successful hatching.

Do both male and female pigeons participate in incubation?

Yes, both male and female pigeons take turns incubating the eggs. Usually, males take the daytime shift while females incubate at night.

Why is nest location important for pigeons?

Pigeons prefer nesting in high, sheltered locations to protect their eggs from predators and environmental hazards. This strategic placement ensures the safety and warmth of the eggs.

How do pigeon parents protect their eggs?

Pigeon parents protect their eggs by alternating incubation duties, choosing secure nesting sites, and using their bodies to maintain the right temperature and safeguard the eggs against potential threats.

Are there similarities between pigeon incubation and that of other bird species?

Yes, like many bird species, pigeons maintain a consistent temperature and share parental incubation duties. However, pigeons have a unique precise split of duties and use crop milk to feed their chicks.

What is crop milk and how is it used during the incubation period?

Crop milk is a nutrient-rich substance produced by both pigeon parents. It is used to feed their chicks during the early stages after hatching, providing essential nutrients for growth and development.