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One of the minor problems with keeping female pigeons is that they can lay eggs every month for the majority of their life. Since egg laying uses lot of energy and calcium it can cause a strain on the female’s body. It isn’t easy to stop a female pigeon from laying eggs every month. As far as I know, there is no hard and fast way to do so. Providing the pigeon with extra vitamin D and calcium, as well as proper housing and good quality food, will help with the stress of egg laying and incubating.

In 2009 my semi-blind pet pigeon, Georgie, laid a pair of eggs nearly every month. Then she decided to have a long break (she must have realised that her eggs are infertile and since I, her “mate”, was no help in incubating she decided it wasn’t worth the stress) and only laid eggs for a few months in a row before having another break. After another 6 month break, Georgie laid an egg on the 31st Dec 2011 and the second one on the 3rd Jan 2012.

She’s been working double shifts since I’m no help. Poor girl, she must get cramped sitting all day and night on her infertile eggs. I let her out of her cage for a stretch and a poo, since she holds it in when nesting, but otherwise Georgie spends all her time being the mummy she thinks she’ll be. It is sad, however, I haven’t been successful with finding her a male pigeon that likes her and even when I do, I wouldn’t let them incubate fertile eggs since there are enough pigeons in the world without me adding to the population. (We don’t have an aviary either so we wouldn’t be able to keep any babies.)

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Georgie on her eggs

Georgie feels very safe in the new nest we got her (see Bedtime and new nest), however, I have to leave the whole thing in her cage when I leave for work otherwise she’d freak out since she doesn’t like her eggs and nest being moved about. It’s a bit cramped once the cage top goes on, but since she sits for most of the day it isn’t a problem (and it’s a temporary thing).

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Cramped quarters

I have been going through the previous posts about Georgie’s egg laying, and it’s interesting to read about her nesting behaviour (and how my views change every time).

Here’s Georgie a week before she laid her eggs, preening my arm in her loving way (it tickles!!!):


A few days ago I spent a bit of time in Dora’s aviary at work – to check up on the resident pigeons there (a mixture of fancy, tame, and disabled pigeons), as well as to spend some time with Dora who used to live with us at home.

One thing I noticed immediately was that all the nesting pigeons (on fake eggs) were male pigeons, except for Dora! She was the only female to be incubating eggs. I don’t know why her mate, Pidge, wasn’t on duty – maybe Dora is a pushy girl and didn’t trust his commitment? Maybe Pidge isn’t as broody as he should be? Whatever the reason, it was quite funny to see the girl in her nest bowl, cooing away to Pidge while he pranced about on the perch to me (Pidge likes people as well as pigeons).

And as soon as I put my hand over to stroke her, Dora gave me the usual greeting:

Here’s Horatio (paired with Speckles) on incubating duty:

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Horatio in his nest

And the new pigeon, Burko, (paired with Tux) is a very good mate – protecting his fake egg from my intruding fingers:

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Burko in his nest

Rudderford has been through a moult and his new tail feathers aren’t as tatty as the previous ones, although I suspect they will soon fray at the ends again since he has trouble standing up properly (due to an injury).

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Rudderford


I’ve known for a while now that Georgie had eggs on the mind. All the usual symptoms were there: looking for a nest as well as excessive courting and mating behaviour. Anything could set her off. Usually just hearing my voice would get Georgie in the mood, but when she’s decided she’s going to lay eggs, well, even Richard’s voice would do! LOL!

I foolishly thought that if I didn’t give Georgie a nest then she wouldn’t lay any eggs. How naive of me!

Last night George jumped down from her usual spot on the sofa onto Elmo’s nest. She knows that he has a nest there and usually doesn’t try to go there because Elmo would of course attack her, but last night she was obviously desperate. I didn’t read her behaviour correctly and thought she was trying to get to the peanut jar so I popped her into her cage so that she could eat. After a minute or so I looked back to see what Georgie was doing and saw that she was about to lay an egg while standing on edge of her cage! OMG!

I quickly picked Georgie up and placed her on the pink fleece (that she loves so much) and watched her lay her egg. It’s actually quite painful to watch because of the size of the egg compaired to the cloaca (vent). I do feel for Georgie. Poor girl. At one point she got the egg out half way but then stopped for a second to regroup her energy and then she gave one last push and the egg came out. Phew!

Once the egg was laid though, Georgie ran away as if not interested. Fair enough. I hadn’t given her a chance to really bond to a nesting place so she disconnected her thoughts from the egg pretty quickly. Her eggs are of course infertile so there’s no problem with her not incubating them.

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Georgie walks away from her freshly laid egg

I do feel a bit guilty for not having given her a nest but I just didn’t want her health to be compromised as it did the last time she laid an egg.

Today Georgie is no different than the last few days. She’s quite chunky in weight (hooray!) and she’s sitting comfortably on my lap. We’re expecting her to lay the second egg tomorrow and we’ll try to capture the moment on video. In the meantime, here’s a video of Georgie laying an egg a year ago:


Georgie is driving us mad. She’s still incubating her fake egg. It’s been 16 days now.

When Georgie’s sitting on her egg she’s quiet and still. She spends all day and probably all night on the egg. This isn’t normal since the male pigeon would be doing his part in the incubating, however, since Georgie’s mate is basically me and I cannot possibly incubate the egg, she is doing double-shifts.

Doing double-shifts for 16 days has taken its toll. Georgie is restless and very indecisive. She wants to come out of her cage for a stretch and a poo, then she flies about to get back into her cage. So I put her back. Georgie eats a bit, then 2 minutes later she wants out again. So I take her out. And Georgie flies about again trying to get back into the cage. So I put her back in. … You see what I’m getting at here. It’s driving me mad.

I have a feeling that Georgie is getting ready to abandon her egg. If it doesn’t hatch in the next few days Georgie will realise that she’s wasted her time and energy. … I feel really bad now writing this. Like I’ve duped her. However, if I were to take the eggs away straight after they were laid, then Georgie would pine for them and lay another pair soon again. If I let her incubate the infertile eggs then at least she goes through the motions her hormones are demanding her to do. The best thing would be to let her incubate fertile eggs and raise some babies, but so far no male pigeon has been interested in Georgie. They all think her eyes are weird and peck her.

One day, maybe I’ll find a nice disabled male pigeon who thinks the world of Georgie. One day, hopefully. She deserves it.


It seems that Georgie has forgiven me for not pulling my weight with the incubation because she’s spending some time with me instead of sitting all evening on her infertile egg. I think she’s had enough and tomorrow I might remove the egg. But first I’ll have to see what sort of mood she’s in.

And it may be that we have a racist pigeon on our hands. Uh oh. Elmo hated the black shirt that Richard put on (he ran away, shaking with fear and outrage), but when Richard changed into a white shirt Elmo was happy! Hmmm….. OK, so I might be overreacting here. The alternative: Could Elmo possibly be letting Richard know, in his over-dramatic way, that he didn’t look good in the black shirt? The white shirt could very well have looked better on Richard in Elmo’s eyes!

Maybe we’ve got a fashion-conscious pigeon instead? After all, if you’ll allow me to stereotype here, Elmo is gay!


So what’s been happening lately in our lives. Well, Georgie laid an egg, but only one! Pigeons usually lay two so I was very surprised that Georgie hadn’t laid another one. But I guess since she’s had such a big break from the last time she didn’t have the energy or inclination to go all out. Anyway, Georgie is happy at the moment and busy with her incubation.

Although she’s still not pleased with me disturbing her for a photo. Here’s Georgie about to wing slap me:

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I have to admit that I’ve been missing cuddling up to Georgie. I’m giving Elmo more attention, much to his displeasure! :) I think George is upset with me because I’m not pulling my weight, i.e. I’m not doing my part in incubating (both the male and the female pigeon incubate – they take turns).

There’s not much to report about Elmo. Just that he’s a little git! :) Loving Richard, hating me. His feathers have grown completely in his bald patch, however, he now needs to preen the feather follicles off:

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And once again it has snowed in this part of the world. I’ve got to clear a spot in the garden so that the wildlife can be fed (and not sink into the snow!). I saw our local fox walk up our stairs and through the fence into the neighbours garden this morning. He looks very healthy. I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of him.

The ferals and woodpigeons have been down to eat the seed I put out for them. We haven’t had much problems with the feral pigeon flock since we feed them sporadically, however, when it snows I put out food more regularily to help them out. It can be tough for the wildlife when there’s a sudden snowfall.

And lastly, we had a pleasant surprise when opening the beer box:

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Returned home early today and Elmo was besides himself with joy. I couldn’t believe it – he was inviting me over for cuddles!! Is this the same pigeon? What’s happened to Elmo? :)

Seeing as he was in such a generous mood, I had to take him up on his offer. So instead of doing all the housework like I was psyching myself up to doing, I cuddled with Elmo for most of the afternoon. I could see that he was in bliss. And you know what? So was I! :)

(Of course, this is not the first time he’s been kind to me, for example: Holiday welcome.)

Georgie is busy incubating her egg. I’m expecting the second to appear today but so far nothing. Hmmm. Wonder what’s taking so long? (I’ll be replacing her infertile eggs with fake ones soon.)

At the moment Georgie wants nothing to do with me or Richard. She’s defensive and very sensitive. We have to leave her alone in her cage on her nest. Every now and then she’ll get up for a stretch, which is when I let her out of her cage and she does a massive poo (which she’s been saving up while she incubates) and then wants to go back to sitting on her egg. What dedication!


Georgie’s second egg was laid today. Sometimes she lays them later in the day but this time she laid it before we got home from work. We got home and saw Georgie sitting on her eggs contently. A very sweet sight.

When George is in egg-laying or incubating mode a few things occur. First she gets restless and also a bit defensive of her nest area. Anyone sitting next to her has to be aware that she may stand up and attack you for no apparent reason (well, Georgie’s got her reasons, we just don’t know them. I just think she gets a bit moody!).

Next, she poos massive and sometimes very stinky poos. When she’s incubating George often won’t poo in the cage – often prefering for me to take her out of her cage and let her walk about and then she’ll let one out. Since they are sometimes quite runny at this time I have kitchen roll at the ready to catch the poo before it hits the floor. It’s an easy way to keep the place clean because she’ll only poo big ones a few times a day so I know when to be ready to catch them. (Me being overindulgent? Never! :) )

Another behaviour of George’s is to take seed from her food bowl and carry them to her nest where she’ll strategically place them around her eggs. I’ll come home from work to find more seed in her nest than in her bowl!! :) Strange girl! (She does have soft shredded paper to line her nest.)

The main thing with Georgie in her maternal mood is to let her do her thing. If we disturb her too much she gets angry and annoyed, but we also have to be aware of her needs, e.g. when she wants to come out for a walk. Before we got her her nest Georgie used to nest in any soft material she could find on the sofa and she didn’t like to be away from her eggs for long so I couldn’t put her back in her cage when we went to work. We had to put the cage around her on the sofa but the mess she’d make was too much. I’m very happy we got her the guinea-pig nest which Georgie loves and is happy to sit on in her cage.

I don’t think Georgie would make a good mother because of her disability, but she sure gives it her best shot at incubating unfertilised eggs. :)


Georgie laid an egg yesterday at 8.30pm.

We were expecting her to do so the whole day (we can tell by the fact that she gets heavier and by her nesting behaviour) but she didn’t want to settle down in her nest to lay it. She kept getting up and walking over to me and trying to nest on my lap but I had things to do and couldn’t sit for long so I kept putting her back on her nest to try to get her to settle. Eventually we came to compromise: Georgie agreed to stay on her nest only if I had it by my side on the sofa and if I had my hand next to her so she could preen it.

After about 30 minutes of TV watching to keep me occupied I looked down and saw Georgie about to lay her egg. Her chest was puffed out and her lower back was arched downward with her tail feathers sticking up. She panted a few times and I could see her push then stop then push again. Just before the egg came out Georgie stood up to let it fall into the nest. After taking a quick photo, we gently picked up her nest and placed it in her cage and Georgie settled down for the night.

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Georgie will lay the second egg tomorrow (pigeons lay two eggs two days apart) and then she’ll be incubating them for about a week and a half even though she should be incubating them for about 17 days – I’m afraid Georgie gives up early! But since the eggs aren’t fertilised we’re not worried.

More about Georgie’s egg laying and incubating behaviour later! :)


Has anyone else noticed the lovely bald patch on a pigeon’s abdomen?

What about how wet pigeon smells like wet dog?

I have to say that wet pigeon smells just as bad as wet dog does. :D Why is that? How can feathers smell like dog hair? Well, they do and the other evening a very wet Elmo was sitting on the sofa next to me and he stank! I had to move him further down the sofa to give me a bit of relief from the smell. … Stinky boy! :)

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Elmo's brood patch

The bald spot – called a brood patch – on a pigeon’s sternum is very endearing. Both males and females have it and it’s used to incubate the eggs and keep the hatched babies warm. When incubating the mum or dad pigeon (both take turns) will move their chest feathers out, move the eggs against the bald spot, and settle their feathers back down to conceal the eggs. If you put your fingers against the skin on a pigeon’s bald patch you’ll feel how hot it is there. I love to think of the eggs or babies snuggled so warmly and safe against their parents skin.

A final little thing: I’m not sure if other pigeons do this, but Georgie responds to certain actions with what I can only describe as ‘smacking her lips’. :) If I smack my lips together Georgie will do the same. Then she’ll gently peck at my lips and attempt to drink from my mouth. If I rattle a spoon against a mug Georgie will smack her lips. Then she’ll try to drink from the mug. :D