DEAR JOAN: I'm sending you pictures of a goose or a duck that has recently set up residence at the Vasona County Park in Los Gatos.

It has such weird features that I thought it was another crossbred fowl that is prevalent in this park until I remembered that I took a snapshot of a similar looking duck/goose while vacationing in Hawaii early this year. Looking at that snapshot it looks identical to the one at Vasona so I think it is a unique breed.

I have tried unsuccessfully to find an identification of this water fowl in many online websites. Do you have access to a source that you can use to help me identify this breed?

Gil Fong

The unmistakeable visage of a Muscovy duck.Courtesy of Gil Fong
The unmistakeable visage of a Muscovy duck. Courtesy of Gil Fong ( Gil Fong )

Los Gatos

DEAR GIL: When you see a duck that looks a little like a goose with a warty looking red splotch on its face, you're looking at a Muscovy duck.

The distinctive red splotch is normal, although not all have one or have a prominent one. The males are more showy than the females. The ducks are popular in the meat market as they have a stronger tasting flavor, often compared to roast beef. The Muscovy also are quieter than their handsomer cousins and are sometimes billed as being "quackless."

It's not unusual to find Muscovys in the wild, and you've apparently stumbled upon at least one at Vasona County Park.


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DEAR JOAN: We adopted a papillon mix puppy from Tony La Russa's Animal Rescue Foundation last spring. He is 12 pounds, but is a great hiker.

We took him out in the open space on Sunday and he came back with three ticks on him. He is a blonde color so they were easy to see.

On Monday, he was out in the yard and came back with two more ticks. We apply Frontline each month and the ticks don't seem to be attaching themselves. Is this tick season?

We plan to brush him each time he comes in and search for ticks so they don't get in the house. Do the ticks tend to jump off when they come inside or do they stay on the animal if they have been treated with a product like Frontline?

Alix Watson

Walnut Creek

DEAR ALIX: Products such as Frontline do a good job of keeping fleas and ticks off our pets, but you may occasionally see some on your dog. There's no need to worry, because once they come in contact with your dog's skin, they will start to die and fall off. Contrary to popular belief, the tick doesn't have to bite the dog.

Frontline contains fipronil and (S)-methoprene, which is stored in the oil glands in the pet's skin, turning the animal into a walking flea and tick death trap.

Although the pests are poisoned by the medication, brushing your pet still is a good idea. You'll remove burrs, improve your dog's coat, reduce matting, find lumps or injuries before they become a problem, and bond with your dog. Most dogs loved to be brushed.

While flea season is generally during the hotter months, it's always tick season. With your dog protected, you want to take precautions for yourself by avoiding tall grass and vegetation, keeping your pants legs tucked in to socks or boots, and checking for ticks when you come in from your hikes.

Contact Joan Morris at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com or 1700 Cavallo Road, Antioch, CA 94509. Follow her at Twitter.com/AskJoanMorris.