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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Last week, I wrote about a reader in the Town of Huntington who noticed that, after five decades, she no longer had house finches visiting her bird feeder. I explained there was a pox-type virus and additional mycoplasma infections in the birds' eyes that were killing off large numbers of house finches. Fortunately, that was the only species that seemed to be affected in this area. I asked readers to please let me know if the finches in their backyards were still visiting. Readers responded -- some even sent pictures, including the ones at left.

In some areas of Suffolk County, particularly on the North Fork, readers said there was no decrease in the number of birds. However, in western Suffolk and almost all of Nassau and Queens, many wrote that there were either no finches at all at the feeders or just a small fraction of the numbers. Respondents said they still saw finches that had eye problems at the feeders. It just may be that the worst is yet to come, but whatever birds are left may have developed an immunity to the diseases. Since the house finch is one of the few bird species that thrives in our suburban habitat, in a few years the population should bounce back from the survivors.