Microbial infection is one of the main factors reducing survival in the first stages of life in oviparous species, and recent studies have shown that the avian eggshell harbors an important variety of microorganisms that can rapidly multiply and penetrate the shell, leading to a decrease in hatchability. Here, we report the results of an experiment in which we examined how incubation and maternal preen oil affect the growth of avian eggshell microbes, using the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) as a model species. We compared the bacterial and fungal loads on the shell of non-incubated eggs and eggs incubated by females having free or blocked access to their preen gland. An increase of eggshell bacterial loads was observed in all conditions, but bacterial growth was higher on the shell of incubated eggs than on non-incubated eggs. We did not find any significant difference in eggshell bacterial growth for eggs incubated by females with free or blocked access to their preen gland. In addition, fungal growth during our experiment was not affected by incubation or the mother's preen oil. Our findings are in contrast with those of previous studies which showed that incubation limited or had no effect on eggshell bacterial growth. Differences in environmental conditions and/or species ecology may explain the difference between the results of our experiment and those of previous studies. Our study provides the first data on the effect of maternal preen oil on eggshell microorganisms, showing that preen oil does not limit eggshell microbial growth.