DEAR JOAN: I am a faithful reader who wonders if you or your sources can identify a bird that flew onto our property, stayed for a short time and then flew off.

We have tried searching on Google, but haven't found answers. A friend even took a photo to his duck club, but no one had any idea.

Some say it is a hybrid. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Karon H.

Brentwood

DEAR KARON: It is indeed a hybrid duck. The head resembles a mallard and the body that of a goose. A bird expert assured me that a mallard will mate with anything that will put up with him.

Odd duck seen in Brentwood.
Odd duck seen in Brentwood. (Courtesy of Karon Halford)

DEAR JOAN: Almost every night, there is a woman who parks down the block, gets out and walks up and down the street with a bag of cat food, feeding any and all cats she comes upon.

As this has become a habit, so too has it become habitual for the cats of my neighborhood to meow and grovel for this person as they've gotten used to her feeding them. You can probably imagine how upset my cat-owning neighbors are, and more than a couple have asked her to stop, but she does not seem to care.

Obviously, this is bad for the cats from a diet persecutive; also, they are not returning to their homes before night and thus are increasing their risk of injury.

In fact, a neighbor's cat had to get its tail amputated because it got into a fight overnight. Normally, it would have been inside but it stayed out for the free food.

Is there anything my neighbors or I can do to deter this person?

I'm sure she has good intentions, but her methods are not great and she is doing more harm than good. Did I mention she trespasses on folks' properties to feed the cats?

Please advise!

Kyle C.

Campbell

DEAR KYLE: The best thing your cat-owning neighbors can do is to keep their cats inside. If they aren't out, she can't feed them.

I already can hear the protests about cats needing to be outside. I respect those who ascribe to this strong belief, but you've seen what happens to outdoor cats. They are much safer inside.

The phantom cat feeder, I'm sure, is trying to feed the feral cats, but she is missing her mark. With tame and feral all coming for food, it's hard to separate them out.

If she is trespassing, then your neighbors should call the police. There are other ways of feeding stray cats that don't require breaking the law. If the cats in your neighborhood all have good homes, she needs to move her efforts to where they are needed.

DEAR JOAN: On behalf of the Health Trust Meals On Wheels, I can't thank you enough for the wonderful Dec. 16 column about our Pets And their Loving Seniors (PALS) program. Within a week of the column, we raised more than $10,000 for PALS, and the money continues to come in.

Thanks to the generosity of your caring readers, we have raised enough money to keep the program going for a year, providing free pet food to our low-income Meals On Wheels clients who have pets. Our clients and their loving animal companions can't thank you enough. Anyone who would like more information about PALS can go to www.healthtrust.org/services/mow.php.

Mary B. Vollinger, program director

San Jose

DEAR MARY: On behalf of my always fabulous readers, you are most welcome. Let's keep it going.

Joan Morris' column runs five days a week in print and online. Contact her at jmorris@bayareanewsgroup.com; or P.O. Box 8099, Walnut Creek, CA 94596.