Dove Egg Laying Timetable
John Pire

These are some "old Pigeon breeder tales" (similar to the "old wives tales") & have persisted since the day man obtained the first pair pigeons & began breeding them.

It is assumed that all doves/pigeons lay two eggs; that the eggs are laid 1 day apart; that the clutch always consists of 1 male & 1 female; with the first egg always being the male & the second egg laid is always the female. The eggs always hatched the same way they were laid. The eggs are always laid in the mornings. All of these beliefs have been proven or disprove. 

In the theory of the eggs hatching as they were laid, it is only partially true. In truth, if both eggs are fertile - the 1st egg will hatch & then the 2nd egg. However, not the same number of hours may lapse or occur between them as was when the two eggs were laid. Many believe that seeing the parent bird on the egg is proof they are incubating the eggs; however this is not true - sometimes the birds do not begin incubation until the 2nd egg is close to or after it has been laid. In my experience about 50% of the time the eggs hatch on the same day - indicating that the birds started incubation temperatures after the second egg was laid or within 8 hours of it being laid.

The eggs of the two egg clutch species can be laid from as little as 21 hours to over 45 hours between the eggs. The sex ratio has been proven as 25% both are males; 25% both are females & 50 % as male & female. This proof also dispelled the 1st egg laid as always being a male & 2nd egg laid as always being a female theory.

Many of the species of dove/pigeon lay two egg clutches, however some of the species only lay a single egg clutch. These include the Fruit eating (Ptlinopus) species, the Crowned Pigeon (Goura) species, the Pheasant Pigeons (Otidiphaps) & some New World Pigeon (Columba, Gallicolomba & Geotrygon) species.

I kept the Bare-eyed Pigeon (Columba corensis); this species lays a single egg per clutch; incubation was 17 to 18 days; sex of young - out of 8 young - 5 were male & 3 females over a 4 year period. I cannot locate any data on the single egg laying species which reflect sex ratios. 

The table below lists some laying times of some of the species in my collection. These times do not represent all the species, pairs within that same species or exact times each egg was laid. Some of the times indicated were within  just a few minutes. I started with hourly checks on pairs & when behavior warranted I checked every 1/2 hour & if the hen's behavior showed she was close to laying the egg,  I stayed & watched the egg being laid.

Species 1st Egg 2nd Egg Hours
  Date Time Date Time  
Ringneck (Rosy) 11/26/2003 3:55 PM 11/28/2003 9:05 AM 41
Ringneck (Chinmoy) 11/26/2003 3:55 PM 11/28/2003 9:05 AM 41
African Collared Dove 11/28/2003 4:45 PM 11/30/2003 2:00 PM 45
African Collared Dove 11/29/2003 12:30 PM 11/30/2003 2:00 PM 26
Ringneck (Snow White) 12/1/2003 7:00 AM 12/2/2003 11:15 AM 28
Senegal Dove 12/1/2003 7:00 AM 12/2/2003 11:15 AM 28
Senegal Dove 12/2/2003 11:15 AM 12/3/2003 8:00 AM 21
Ringneck (White) 12/2/2003 5:30 PM 12/4/2003 9:35 AM 40

Ringneck (color) = indicates the color/mutant of that pair of Ringnecks

Click HERE to view the Hatching results of 11 species of Doves/Pigeons (use browser's back button to return here)

If you have any data which can be added to this table please forward it to me.

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