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pigeons Things About Pigeon Eggshells
By Robert J. Mangile

American Pigeon Review
January 1985, page 38.

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 diameter.]

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 explanation too.

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?'

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