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Why Do Pigeons Abandon Their Eggs?

Why Do Pigeons Abandon Their Eggs?

Pigeons reproduce really well because of how they are known for mating for life. This has led to the large population of pigeons we have all over the world today. However, while pigeons are known for being hands-on parents, you might have noticed how certain pigeons actually abandon their eggs or, at the very least, not sit on them. So, why do pigeons abandon their eggs?

When a pigeon is not sitting on its eggs or has seemingly abandoned it, it could be due to how the mother has realized that the eggs won’t hatch such as when the egg is unfertilized or if the eggs are dead or will no longer hatch. The mother will abandon an unhatched egg after 17 to 19 days.

Pigeons are actually hands-on parents that care well enough for their young because they know that their offspring need their attention. In that sense, pigeons have great parental instincts. However, pigeons are also smart enough to know when to abandon an egg such as when it is unfertilized or will no longer hatch. That said, that is usually the time when the pigeon will abandon the egg.

Do pigeons have to sit on their eggs all the time?

No matter where you look at and which animal we are talking about, almost all of the creatures on this earth have great parental instincts that will allow them to take care of their young very well and make sure that their eggs will hatch once laying them. After all, one of the many different natural instincts that animals have is making sure that their bloodline and their species are preserved for future years. This includes the pigeon, which is regarded as a great bird in terms of its parental instincts.

Like many birds, the pigeon is supposed to sit on its eggs to keep them warm because the eggs need to be incubated for them to hatch. This is something you will almost always see in most birds as they make it a point to see to it that their eggs hatch so that their bloodline will be preserved. However, one thing you may wonder is that if there really is a need for pigeons to sit on their eggs all time.

In that regard, yes, pigeons need to sit on their eggs all the time because their eggs need constant warmth from the pigeon to make sure that they will hatch and that the chicks inside the eggs stay alive. So, if the pigeon isn’t there to provide the eggs with warmth, the unhatched chicks will most likely die in no time.

Probably the only time when a pigeon won’t be sitting on an egg is if it is yet to lay all of its eggs. That’s because the mother pigeon prefers to have all of her eggs hatching at the same time. So, in that case, the mother pigeon would want to lay all of her eggs first before sitting on all of them at the same time.

However, after pigeons mate, mothers aren’t the only responsible ones in the family because the males also do their part. Most of the time, mother pigeons can spend more than 24 hours sitting on their eggs. But there will be times when their mates take their place so that the mother can rest and eat. When that happens, it is now time for the male to sit on the eggs so that the parents can ensure that the unhatched chicks get enough rest without tiring out the parents.

Why would pigeons abandon their eggs?

Now that you know that pigeons have great parental instincts to the point that they do not only make sure that they always sit on the eggs but also that they take turns to make sure that the eggs will always stay warm, you might be wondering why there are some pigeons that actually abandon their eggs. So, why would a pigeon even abandon its egg?

So, the first reason why a pigeon would abandon its egg is if already knows that it laid an unfertilized egg. Laying unfertilized eggs is quite common among birds and not just in poultry as female birds will also lay eggs without mating with male birds. In this case, pigeons can also still lay unfertilized eggs even though they did not mate with male pigeons. 

As such, because the female pigeon already knows that the egg is unfertilized and will not bear any offspring, there is no need for it to waste its time sitting on it. This leads the female pigeon to quickly abandon an unfertilized egg that it deems useless and pointless to keep warm or to sit on.

Another reason why pigeons can abandon their eggs is if they have realized that the eggs will no longer hatch. No matter how much time a pigeon spends sitting on her eggs, there will still be cases when the eggs won’t hatch such as when the offspring are too unhealthy and actually died while still in their eggs. In some cases, the eggs might have been damaged along the way such as when the mother pigeon sat on them too hard.

However, the problem here is that mother pigeons will try to sit on unhatched fertilized eggs to keep them warm for as long as they can because they don’t know whether or not the eggs will hatch. Pigeons don’t have a way of telling early on whether a fertilized egg will hatch. As such, pigeons might have to wait 17 to 19 days while sitting on the eggs before realizing that the eggs won’t hatch. That’s because pigeon eggs normally hatch 17 to 19 days after they were laid.

So, when the pigeon has spent 19 days sitting on the eggs only to find out that they will no longer hatch, that is the time when it will realize that it would be pointless to continue sitting on eggs that are dead or damaged. As such, this is where a mother pigeon will abandon its eggs because the eggs will no longer serve any purpose.

In some cases, however, even though the eggs might be healthy, there will still be times when a pigeon will abandon its eggs or its nest altogether when it is frightened such as when a human or a predator approaches it. It becomes a fight or flight response where flight wins out as the pigeon knows for certain that it can still reproduce in the future. In a way, the pigeon understands that it is better to trade the lives of its unhatched offspring rather than to sacrifice its own life because it knows that it can still lay more eggs later on.