Pigeon nest boxes have come about as a replica of how our pigeons would live in the wild. Domestic pigeons are descendants of the Blue Rock Pigeon; these pigeons normally lived in flocks and nested together in caves and holes in cliff faces. Our modern day pigeons still retain that cave instinct and so we provide modern equivalents for them, in the form of pigeon nest boxes.
The pigeon nest boxes must be roomy and well ventilated, with a lot of light. Unlike most birds, the pigeon doesn’t need total isolation when nesting and, in fact, prefers settling down when other pairs are breeding close by. The size of pigeon nest boxes should be proportionate to the breed.
As a guide to the beginner, a box of the following dimensions is ideal for pigeon nest boxes:
The overall length of each box should be around 24 inches, the height 18 inches and the depth about 17 inches. This size of pigeon nest boxes gives enough space for the parent pigeons and their future offspring. If the boxes are built in sections then they can be made a permanent fixture of the loft.
However, if you want to make each of the pigeon nest boxes a separate unit, then you have the added advantage that they can be easily removed for cleaning and fumigation. Also, if you’re tight on space, you can remove them and give your birds more room when they’re not breeding.
Each of the pigeon nest boxes must be fitted with a suitable front that allows the birds some privacy, as well as allowing you get prevent other birds from entering and interfering with the pairing or the young birds.
It is recommended that you provide a small shelf, about seven or eight inches from the floor of the box, on which to place the nest bowl itself. This gives extra protection to the youngsters when they first leave the nest.
The number of nests in the loft depends on how many pigeons you are keeping. As an absolute minimum, you should have a nest for every pair of mated birds, though two boxes for each mated pair is ideal as this prevents arguments between territorial cocks.
The boxes should be kept closed when not in use, as some old cocks will try to set up an empire of boxes all for themselves! Given the opportunity, these dominant males will claim every box and try to stop any newcomers from using them.
Newly mated pairs should be kept and fed in their boxes for several days before being allowed into the loft. It’s best to return them to their nest box by hand each night for a week to ten days afterward, to be certain that they are well established. Allowing pigeons to select their own boxes usually results in a great many fights, broken eggs, and injured youngsters.
Above all, pigeon nest boxes should be comfortable for your pigeons, as the happier they are in them, the happier they will be to lay!