Key Characteristics

To sum up this is a distinctive breed which will always attract attention and prove a challenge to produce a perfect specimen.

  • The BEI is a small black duck which in the best specimens has a lustrous green sheen over all surfaces including the underside of the wings. 
  • It is able to fly if left full winged. 
  • The colour of the bill and legs need to be selected for as some of those with best coloured plumage will show green bills and orange legs. 
  • Ducks should always have black bills and dark legs but drakes will have a light tip to the bill and legs will get an orange hue as they age.
  • Size is also something to take into account as birds, especially males, can become too large in the second year. 
  • Ducks which have the best colour will get white feathers as they get older but drakes which do the same should not be used in the breeding pens.


  • This breed of bantam duck is probably the most mysterious in its origin of any domesticated breed of duck. 
  • The history of the breed in the UK goes right back to the first recorded importation by the Earl of Derby in 1850 or 1851.
  • The birds were recorded to have been shipped from Buenos Aries but could have come from anywhere in North or South America as sea captains were always trading in anything which was of an interesting nature.
  • There is however no documentary evidence to show a connection between the birds and any of these areas. 
  • The thought is that it was given an exotic sounding name to create interest and actually originates from North America. 

Did you know?

The name East Indian was probably coined because the British had a trading company set up called the East Indian Company. In fact, Geneticists say it must have been from the Northern hemisphere and a Mallard derivative as it moults twice a year unlike those from the South who moult only once.

Breed Societies

For more information visit the British Waterfowl Association