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Facts About Wild Pigeons

This information is about wild pigeons, though much of the information will have a useful application to domestic stocks

* Nest building occurs 5-7 days after the first mating.

* Mating occurs 5-7 times per day.

* Some repetitive nest sites are built on the old site. Nests have be known to be almost 8 inches high, 20 inches wide and weigh 4 lbs (Kansas). It contained several crushed eggs and two mummified babies.

* The favored nesting spots are not cliffs, though they are used in the wild populations remaining in the harsh west coast of England and Scotland. These nests are vulnerable to Gyr Falcons, Peregrine Falcons, and a deadly gull called the Skua, not to mention horrible weather. The ancestral breeding grounds of choice are the caves on the same cliffs—places of near darkness. (So if you some cocks in a new loft with nest boxes, the strong bird will tend to take and defend the highest darkest “cave”).

* Clutches are 2 egg-91.9%, 1 egg-7.7%, 3 egg--.05%, one case of 4 eggs has been documented in a hen/cock couple.

* The choice of 2 eggs is due to the limitation of crop milk which is typically insufficient for more than two babies.

* Winter and summer eggs have a different chemistry of yolk and egg white and overall size.

* If the hen parent dies the nest is abandoned. If the cock dies the hen stays on the nest unless this happens early in the term.

* The egg loses about 22% of weight during incubation in the form of respiratory water loss.

* Maternal Immunoglobin G and tansferrins in the egg yoke and egg white take care of the immune response before the baby develops an immune system. This is also in “pigeons milk” and the adult saliva.

* The process of incubation stimulates the release of prolactin which stimulates the production of “pigeons milk”.

* Hatching losses in wild Pigeons is 7-25% averaging about 10%. The greatest losses are in the first 5 days.

* The first egg has approximately one day’s head start on the second egg, even though the eggs are about 44 hours apart on average.

* Brood reduction strategy via hatching asynchrony is valuable when food is scarce-this assures one baby will survive. Other species may not incubate until all eggs are laid. (If you breed pigeons you may take the first egg to a cool place until the second egg is laid). In wild Pigeons on average, 70% of the first eggs fledge and only 57% of the second eggs fledge.

* If the second egg hatches 2 days after the first, 60% of the second chicks die. Later than that and they all die.

* Other species have the first egg be the smaller gender (could be male or female) because the smaller youngster has a smaller price in terms of food energy required, but pigeons give the larger male the first egg.

* The first egg has more protein in winter.

* Birds paired quickly and arbitrarily have a higher degree of one egg clutches and infertile eggs. The courtship rituals key the biological preparations and if they are not well done, the mating is jeopardized.

* Hatching temperature for babies is between 89° and 91; weight is about .50 ounces.

* The babies blood has a high hemoglobin which allows for greater warmth = greater heat capacity.

* By day 8 the youngster is 98°; adult temperature of 107° is reached by day 17—18.

* Peas are not introduced until day 7, after which time they become very important.

* Youngsters usually walk between the 12—17th day.

* The last feathers to develop are those on the anterior part of the head—perhaps this is due to the fact that the baby sticks the mandibles into the parent’s mouth to feed.

* The youngster is normally independent between 30—45 days.

* The period between 6—10 weeks is the time of most susceptibility to disease.

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