The rarest of the rare – the Hook Bill duck

Ducks 1-4-21 SM Farm

Small, quirky and hook billed are just some of the words that could be used to describe the Hook Bill duck which, sadly, is probably among the rarest breeds of domestic ducks in the UK.

The breed has all but disappeared in Northern Ireland and, having checked over the past few months, there may only be one small breeding pen of the birds left here.

This is a breed that was never kept in great numbers in the Province but would still have appeared in the any other variety light breed classes at shows across the country.

I was so pleased to judge them at a couple of local shows with a very nice dusky mallard Hook Bill duck exhibited by McLaren and Adams ending up on championship row.

The breed exists in three standard colours, namely Dusky Mallard, White bibbed Dusky Mallard and White with other colours existing outside the UK as well as crested varieties.

They are an exceptionally friendly breed of duck that I’ve found are decent layers of surprisingly large green eggs.

They have an almost horizontal carriage, that amazingly curved bill and slender neck, and a fairly broad plump body.

Although it’s said they can fly, thankfully I haven’t discovered them flying.

History of the breed:

The breed was described and illustrated as far back as 1678.

Although found across Europe, it was suggested that the breed was of Indian origin.

It is said to have existed on a lake at the Surrey Zoological Gardens between 1837 and 1840.

The breed was regarded as cost-effective to keep. It has been suggested that in Holland they were released onto the canals were they foraged all day, returning at night.

With their distinctive shape and white bibs, they weren’t hunted as they stood out from other duck breeds.

Even the crested variety existed hundreds of years ago as they appear in a 17th century painting.

This little unusual duck breed definitely needs help to survive into the future.

If anyone has or knows of someone who still keeps Hook Bill ducks here could they contact me on email or by Facebook messenger.


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