Abstract The duck enteritis virus (DEV) may be a promising candidate viral vector for an aquatic poultry vaccination that can protect against multiple pathogens because it has a very large genome and a narrow host range. Recently, we described two DEV recombinants that contained deletions of the viral US2 or gIgE genes. The hemagglutinin (HA) gene of an H5N1-type highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) of goose origin was inserted into the deletion sites to construct two rDEVs expressing the AIV HA antigen. The resulting rDEV-ΔgIgE-HA or rDEV-ΔUS2-HA recombinant DEV viruses were used to infect duck embryo fibroblasts. Reverse transcription PCR, immunofluorescence and western blot analysis results indicated that rDEV-ΔgIgE-HA and rDEV-ΔUS2-HA were successfully expressed in duck embryo fibroblasts (DEFs). To investigate whether the HA gene could be stably maintained in the recombinant viruses, the viruses were passaged in DEFs 18 times. The HA gene in both recombinants could be detected by PCR amplification. The immunized four-week-old ducks induced specific antibodies against DEV and AIV HA and were protected against challenge infections with DEV AV1221 viruses.