The Dutch Hookbill is considered as ‘endangered’. There are an estimated 250-400 individuals in captivity of their worldwide population. That being said, let’s get you into the details of what you really came here for.
History And Definition Of The Dutch Hook Bill
The Hook Bill duck is a domestic breed of duck originating in Asia (rumoured to be India, as a likely relative of the Indian Runner duck) but ultimately spread in the Netherlands. As the name implies, the breed is identified by its downward curving beak, distinguishing themselves from other duck breeds.
It is believed that this particular trait was useful to duck breeders and hunters alike, making it easier for them to distinguish Hookbills from wild ducks that inhabited the same areas as the domesticated birds. This unique appearance of the Hookbill made them more desirable as ornamental birds as opposed their earlier use – they were known for being excellent layers of eggs. That alone combined with their excellent foraging capability made the breed widely popular on Dutch farms.
In Holland, in the 18th century ducks, traditionally raised alongside canals, were given a place to feed and nest while they were brooding; then ducks and ducklings were all released to the surrounding wetlands to forage for their own food after which, they received no further supplemental food. The wings of the ducklings were clipped to ensure their capture later. By mid-August the ducks were gathered and shipped to markets in Purmerend, where they were purchased by duck keepers who would use them for egg production. Today the Hook Bills are still among the best foragers of domestic ducks.
- The Dutch Hookbill is an old duck breed that can be traced back to the 17th century. They have a history of more than 400 years; thus, making them the oldest Domestic Waterfowl breed in Europe.
- The Dutch Hookbill breed met a decline in the 20th century, primarily due to a diminished market for duck eggs and also to the effects of the then increasingly polluted waterways that served as their home. By 1980 the Hookbill breed was nearly extinct, but through a Dutch effort led by Hans van de Zaan, the last 15 birds were gathered, stored and used to start a conservation breeding program in the Netherlands.
- Hook Bill ducks were first admitted to the British Waterfowl Standards in the year, 1997. They were imported into North America by David Holderread in year 2000 and are not yet admitted to the American Standard of perfection.
Today, they are primarily raised for exhibition purposes. The White-Bibbed version is similar to the Dusky, albeit possess a large patch of white on the front and on primary feathers. The last is an entirely white variety.
Italy: Anatra Curvirostra or Anatra Becco Curvo.
Dutch: Kromsnaveleend or Noord-Hollandse Krombekeend.
America: Dutch Hookbill
France: Olandese Bec Courbeand
Personality And Traits Of The Dutch Hookbill
This really is a peculiar looking duck. Not only does it literally have a hooked bill which forms part of a curve around the whole of the top of the head, but its legs are of little difference to that of the mallard. Their bodily shape and overall movement gives the Hook Bill a characteristic funny walk. Once you have got these birds, they tend to stay with you for life : ) Furthermore, they are placid, gentle, docile, and friendly; also, they are beautiful ducks with real character.
Dutch Hookbill ducks possess excellent flight capability, especially younger individuals. The birds reach sexual maturity often by around 16 weeks of age.
Uses Of The Dutch Hookbill
The birds kept for breeding were selected to be sturdy and disease resistant, self-sufficient, adaptable to new circumstances, and efficient layers needing less food than other breeds in order to be productive. They are also kept as ornaments, and for egg laying.
Egg Laying and Weight
It is a seasonal layer of blue eggs. Healthy ducks can be expected to lay anywhere from 100 – 230+ eggs per year. It’s a light-weight bird, weighing between 2.3 to 2.8 kilos (5.5 and 6.5 pounds). The Hook Bill can be seen in several varieties: the Dusky (or Dark) is in shades of gray-brown, Dusky Blue, Bibbed Dusky Blue, ‘Dirty White’.
Uses: Exhibition, Utility: meat and eggs.
Eggs: 100 to 200 Blue Eggs.
Weight: Drake: 2 – 2.25 Kg, Duck: 1.6 – 2 Kg.
Colors: Dusky Mallard, White-bibbed Dusky Mallard, White.