Mangile's Pigeon Pages
American Pigeon Review
January 1985, page 38.
Things About Pigeon Eggshells
By Robert J. Mangile
816 E. Atkinson Ave.
Pittsburg, Kansas 66762
A pigeon fancier who keeps more than
a few pair of pigeons will soon experience that pigeons lay eggs in
various sizes and shapes. From pea- sized eggs without yolks to
very large double-yolked eggs the size of chicken eggs. Some are
rough-shelled and some soft-shelled and a rare egg with hardly a shell
at all, but covered only by the membrane. Wendell Levi reports of
an egg within an egg in his book “The Pigeon”. And I have found an egg
that had a softened appendage about half an inch long. [On October 20, 1991, I had an
Oriental Frill Stencil hen that laid an “egg within an egg”, as
reported by Levi, that measured 2-1/4 inches long x 1-1/2 inches
Occasionally a rough-shelled or soft-shelled egg may give a female
pigeon a problem, having difficulty exiting the oviduct. And less
often she may die if the egg is in a position where it cannot be
removed. Another problem is nicked or indented shells of eggs that are
laid on the floor or in a nest that contains hardened droppings.
It seems the droppings indent the eggs or even break them at
times. A dented egg is unlikely to hatch if the membrane beneath
the shell is ruptured and often the weakened shell will allow it to be
crushed during the incubation period.
Indented or nicked eggs can be fixed-up, so to speak, with a little
maintenance. An unwanted egg may be broken and portions of the
shell can be placed over the indention while still moist from the
albumen. Given time to dry, it will make a good patch and the egg
may be hatchable. Another technique is the use of regular plastic
tape. A small piece of plastic tape can be placed over the nick
with care, after cleaning away any foreign material on the egg. Using
the tip of a pocketknife or some other sharp object to gently stick the
tape firmly to the eggshell. At hatching time one must be sure
that the tape does not interfere with the hatching process and it may
need to be removed or cut to allow the shell to open and free the squab
A more modern technique is the use of a liquid or spray called New
Skin or spray-on Band-Aids. It can be purchased at a drug
store. I've even thought of using clear fingernail polish but
fear it may be toxic to the embryo. I think it would work in many
instances. I'm sure the tape method works. I've had eggs
hatch after full term incubation with tape on them from the day
laid. [I've heard reports
of using Elmer’s Glue to seal cracked eggs.]
After the eggs are hatched there is another interesting thing that
happens. Generally, a parent bird will remove the empty shell
with its bill and leave the nest to discard the shell. In a small
individual breeding cage, I've observed adult pigeons holding eggshells
for a lengthy time, trying to get beyond the fence in an effort to
discard the eggshell at a more satisfactory distance from the
nest. Just throwing it over the edge of the nest seems to be
unsuitable to them.
Other pairs seem indifferent to the hatched eggshells and will allow
them to remain in the nest for many days. Apparently the instinct
to remove the shells is gone or weak in both birds of that mating. This
is confirmed as one casually looks for eggshells on the floor before
investigating for newly hatched squabs and discover squabs that are
many days old under a brooding parent along with the eggshells from
which they emerged. Somewhere Mother Nature goofed-up again!
There is one particular situation that I find most interesting, with
regards to eggshells and new squabs. Oftentimes a fancier may find a
new squab out of the nest, possibly on the floor of the loft.
During cold weather the squabs chill and soon die, but some of those
cold and lifeless looking squabs will survive if placed back in the
nest. But, the question of how they got out of the nest intrigues
me. Some parent birds compete for the nest during that time and
may possibly drag them out of the nest. But there is possibly another
Occasionally I have awaited a squab to emerge after seeing that it
was almost ready to kick-away the large end of the piped shell.
Going back moments later to find a new squab on the floor of the cage
and the eggshell gone from the nest. I suggest that the parent
bird gets ahead of schedule and removes the eggshell before the squab
is fully emerged and the squab is discarded with the eggshell. I
cannot state this as a fact because I have never observed the event,
but it seems almost a certainty. Whether a squab is later
emerging or perhaps stuck to the shell in some way or possibly
re-entered the shell after hatching, I cannot say. One thing is
for certain. Such events in the loft need investigation.
Speculation is not equal to fact. Who will come forth with the
answer? Perhaps we could telephone a fancier who could offer all
the answers and ask for "INFORMATION PLEASE?'