Mangile's Pigeon Pages

American Pigeon Journal
October 1988, pages 40 &  41.

Why Must 'pot-eggs' be White?

 by Robert J. Mangile

Years ago I purchased a dozen 'pot-eggs' (fake-eggs) for my pigeons to incubate during the off season.  They were made of wood, shaped like pigeon eggs and painted a glossy white.  The pigeons incubated them just like their own eggs.  A few years later I purchased another dozen.  This time they were white
plastic and each egg consisted of two halves which were designed to snap together, like the ladies pantyhose containers. The birds set them willingly; but, they were very light and had a tendency to wander out of the nest.  So..., I filled them with plaster to give them weight and now they work  nicely.

I began wondering what criteria an egg must meet before a pigeon would incubate it willingly.  Wood and plastic was accepted, their weights varied a lot; but their color matched real pigeon eggs pretty well.  What other variables would they accept.

With a black magic-marking pen I added several large dots to one of the white wooden eggs.  I tried it under several pair at various intervals of their incubation.  All accepted the dotted egg.  Then, with red fingernail polish, I dotted yet another white wooden egg.  Introduced it to several pair and it too was

With a growing interest, I encouraged a friend to make several wooden eggs on his wood-lathe for  more experimentation.  I painted them several colors including red, blue, silver and black.  Some with stripes and dots of various shades and colors.   One was left unpainted.  They readily incubated all of them.

Growing annoyed at the seemingly 'dumb' birds, I tried a small white Christmas Tree light bulb, ...and they incubated it too. I dragged home from work a small white solid ceramic cylinder about the diameter of a small finger and about three-fourths of an inches long and they set it...!  However,
there seemed to be less enthusiasm to incubate the small cylinder and light bulb.

In California some pigeon fanciers are known to use immature dried oranges from local trees.  Ping-pong and golf balls are said to work too.  My birds have incubated white eggs from bobwhite quail; spotted eggs from corturnix (Japanese quail); white, brown and blue eggs from domestic chickens and in one instance a goose egg.

After some thought, it seems that eggshell color has no real roll in the nesting process.  The slight lack of enthusiasm I suspected in the pigeons incubating the ceramic cylinder and the small light bulb have inclined me to think that the object in the nest could be of any coloration but must fall within an acceptable size-range.  Too small an object and the stimulation to the setting bird seems inadequate.  Of course it is known that some hens will set an empty nest for weeks and that totally blind birds will incubate eggs they cannot see.

I don't think this aspect of color and size is unique to pigeons.  The famed albatross (gooney-bird) is said to set a milk-bottle!  Barnyard poultry incubate eggs of different colors, sizes and shapes of other domestic species; and Cowbirds and Cuckoos lay their eggs in a variety of birds' nests which are
hatched and raised by the unrelated species.

Are the 'pot-eggs' we buy 'egg-shaped' and 'white' for the pigeons?  Or..., is it like selling dog-food..., which is marketed to the people!?  Will a pigeon incubate a ball of dried mud or a raw potato!?  It is easy enough to try!  Perhaps some energetic pigeon fancier will take the time to find the answer to
this question.  Oh..., when you do, why not write about it in the A.P.J.?  You would be surprised how may fanciers would be interested in such stuff!?

# # #

Article Index

Home Page