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On the 5th April 2009 Georgie became eggbound with her second egg. I was at work but thankfully Richard was at home and he noticed her having problems laying the second egg (which comes two days after the first). Now Georgie has been laying eggs nearly every month since she surprised us with her first egg in October 2008 (please read: Eggs for breakfast?). We haven’t had any problems but I always had a nagging doubt that her egglaying behaviour could lead to a problem since Georgie is an indoor pigeon and might not be getting the correct amounts of calcium and vitamin D.

So when Richard called me to say he was worried about Georgie I immediately thought with horror, “She’s eggbound”. I asked him to keep her in a warm location, to apply some vaseline around her vent to soften the mucus membranes (to help pass the egg out), and keep a close eye on her till I got home. When I got home Georgie was still struggling. She was unable to stand up and was using her wings to move about. She was clearly distressed. It was a Sunday so our avian vet wasn’t open but I had an out-of-hours emergancy number to call, which I promptly did. Our vet advised us to give her a few drops of calcium (which I thankfully had at hand!) every 2-3 hours and keep her in a warm, humid location (which we had already done).

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The 2nd egg finally arrives

There was nothing more to do but wait and see. It was a nerve-racking time. About 5 hours after Richard had first noticed Georgie having problems, she laid the second egg. It was half the size of a normal egg and had rough patches on it. Not a nice looking egg to lay! The next day I took her to the vet and she received a calcium injection. Georgie couldn’t stand up yet and couldn’t fly – she was temporarily paralysed (from the egg hiting a nerve).

:(

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2nd egg on the right

Egg-binding is thought to have a few causes, but lack of calcium and vitamin D3 are main factors. Calcium is needed to form the shell of the egg as well as maintain strong bones, but crucially also for the proper functioning of the muscles used to expel the egg. With the extra calcium injected in her (as well as drops given to her by myself), Georgie slowly recovered. 5 days later Georgie was 100% alright, walking and flying as normal.

I now have an egg diary to record the dates and times when Georgie lays eggs in order to monitor how frequent her egg laying is. We give her Calcivet (a liquid calcium/magnesium supplement that also has vitamin D3) in her water and I’ve recently bought a fluorescent bird lamp to give her that added support. Grit and oyster shell are also part of her diet.

Being eggbound is a very dangerous condition for any bird and veterinary advice and assistance should be immediately sought.

Georgie is now sitting on two unfertilised eggs. She’s doing the usual behaviours (e.g. attacking anyone who dares approach her, siting on the eggs for hours, pooing ma-hu-sive poos!) and everything is going fine, but the memory of that horrible eggbound time still haunts me.

On a lighter note, Georgie has an odd behaviour when she’s broody. Occasionally, and quite suddenly, she’ll lift both wings straight up a couple of times. She doesn’t take off or get up for a stretch, she simply raises her wings then settles back. Not sure what that’s about, but everytime she does both Richard and I raise our arms in response. It’s become a little game of ours. We’ve even done it when we’ve had guests over. … I know, we’re weird pigeon people. :)