Its common name may sound like a delicacy, but rice breast is not considered appetizing by many hunters.
It’s a disease (sarcocystis) that strikes ducks, which ingest the eggs of the mature parasite in food or water. After hatching, the baby parasites migrate to the skeletal muscles and form cysts. The cysts resemble grains of rice and run in parallel lines throughout the muscle, usually the breast and thigh.
Dabbling ducks — such as the mallard, gadwall , widgeon and so forth — are most susceptible to rice breast.
“Duck species that feed in small, shallow waters are more likely to pick it up than, say, a bluebill that spends more of its time in big water,” said Scott Yaich, director of Conservation Operations at Ducks Unlimited.