Marc Morrone Newsday columnist Marc Morrone

Marc Morrone was born in 1960 in the Bronx and, when he was 2, his family moved to Long Beach, where he quickly became enchanted with the natural world of the seahore. This is when he started to keep any pet that he could get his hands on: It mattered not if it was an insect, fish, amphibian, bird or mammal.

When he was 7, the Morrones relocated to Cold Spring Harbor, where Marc was introduced to the natural world of Long Island's North Shore. The larger house his family had there allowed him to keep more and more pets, and this passion has continued to this day.

The experience and knowledge that he gained by keeping any kind of pet in all lifestyle situations has opened many doors for him, and he currently shares his knowledge with other petkeepers in many media formats. In addition to his weekly column in Newsday, he hosts a weekly TV show on Cablevision’s News 12 Long Island called Animal Island that airs on Saturday and Sunday. He also hosts a TV show called Petkeeping with Marc Morrone that airs Monday through Friday at noon on The HallMark Channel.

He is the petkeeping expert that appears on Martha Stewart's daily TV show as well as writer for the pet columns in the magazine Martha Stewart Living. In addition, he also hosts a live call-in radio show every Friday night at 8 p.m. on the Martha Stewart channel on Sirus/XM radio channel 112/157.

Morrone has written 5 books: Ask the Dogkeeper, Ask the Catkeeper, Ask the Birdkeeper and Ask the Fishkeeper, all published by Bowtie Press. He also has a memoir book, "A Man For All Species," published by Random House.

Marc Morrone lives in Oceanside with his wife and son and a houseful of pets.
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Q: We are very upset and hope you can help. Our 8-year-old cockatiel just flew away. His wing feathers grew in over the winter. We were meaning to bring him to the pet store to get the feathers trimmed again, but with communions and other May events in our family, we just never found the time. The bird was on my son's shoulder, and he forgot all about the bird and went out the back door. As soon as my son got outside, the bird zoomed to the top of a tree and stayed there, chirping loudly for half an hour. We called to him and put his cage out under the tree, as he always flies back to it in the house -- but he just sat up there, calling and calling, and then he took off and flew out of sight. We put notices up all over the neighborhood, but nobody has seen the bird. Can you tell us anything else we may be able to do to get him back? -- Gina Fitzgerald, New Hyde Park

A: Bad luck and circumstances allowed the bird to fly away, and it takes extremely good luck and circumstances to get the bird back. You have to look at the situation from the bird's point of view.

Most likely in your home he had never been more than 8 feet high or so and now, in the blink of an eye, he is 50 feet off the ground. Just imagine what you look like to him from all the way up there. Even if he did recognize you, it would take him quite a while to figure out how to fly back down from such a height. He never did that before.

In such a situation, most pet birds will stay way up in the trees for about two days, trying to figure out what happened and what they should do. By the second or third day, a bird is very hungry, thirsty and tired and really wants to get back down to ground level so that some human -- any human -- can feed it.

At this point, the bird makes it way back down and seeks out the first people it can find. Sometimes it lands on an unsuspecting person's head and sometimes it just sits on the ground or on a car, waiting to be picked up.

If the person who finds your bird has seen one of the signs you put up notifying people of your loss and potential reward, then most likely you will get the bird back. The signs are about the only thing you can do to turn the bad luck in this situation into good luck. The more people who know the bird is missing, the better chance you have to get it back.

Put signs up everywhere, and call everyone you can think of -- pet stores, vets and even the police department -- as many people will call the police when a pet bird flies out of nowhere and lands on their heads.

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Contact local lawn maintenance companies that cut grass in neighborhood backyards all day long while everyone is at work. They have a good chance to encounter your bird when it has chosen to leave the trees and seek out humans again.

You have my best wishes, and if anybody does find your cockatiel and happens to contact me, you can be sure I will do my best to get him back to you.

Q: I have planted my backyard with many native plants and shrubs to help attract wildlife and it is full of birds, butterflies, rabbits, squirrels and chipmunks all summer long. I have a bird bath up on a pedestal and see birds drink out of it all the time, but where do the rabbits drink from? I have two pet bunnies in our house and they drink a half a water bottle a day, but there are no ponds or streams anywhere in my neighborhood, and I always wonder how the wild cottontail rabbits find water to drink. -- Cindy Williams, Lakeview

A: Eastern cottontail rabbits are very resourceful. Most of the water they get is derived from the dew on the grass they eat every morning. Rabbits in suburban areas also benefit from the lawn sprinklers that are going off all over the neighborhood every morning. The water left on the grass helps out those bunnies when the days are so hot and dry that there is no dew in the morning. They do not need an open water source. They can live anywhere they have a bit of cover and some grass to eat.

Q: I do my best to feed my two dogs an all-natural diet, but it seems there are no ways to keep a dog flea- and tick-free in the summer without using some kind of chemical product. Could you recommend any effective, all-natural products you have found to work on your dogs? --Dawn Taylor, Smithtown

A: I am in regular communication with petkeepers all over the country, and this question has popped up from time to time. Many people tell me that rubbing apple cider vinegar in their dog's coat every day before the dog goes outside keeps the parasites off. None of these petkeepers live on Long Island.

When I try it on my dogs, I actually see the fleas make their way right through the fur that is dripping wet with the vinegar, and it does not bother them at all. Yet those petkeepers who advise it swear that does work on their pets. Perhaps the fleas that live on Long Island are a lot more tolerant of such things than the parasites in other parts of the country.

If anybody has any other suggestions that might work better in this area, please share them.