Dear Mayor Egret Adams and Governor Catbird Hochul,
We, the birds of NYC, are writing today to express our concern over the unprecedented scarcity in birdhousing in NYC, and demand immediate action. We've spent hours searching TweetEasy, we've tried Willow, we've tried the weird birdhousing groups on Beakbook, and have been scammed more than a few times. It's never been easy to find the perfect birdhouse in the city (does it even exist?), but these days it’s absolutely cuckoo. With migration season fast approaching, we are facing a real crisis, spurred by pandemic migration patterns, rising seed prices, and supply chain shortages of twigs, ribbons, and shiny things.
We’re priced out of Manhattan, we’re priced out of Brooklyn, and every available birdhouse on a retiree’s porch in Cold Spring has been bought up by some starling who rents it out on AirBirdNBird. Rent-stabilized birdhouses are rarer and more mythical than a giant ivory-billed woodpecker, and every year we live in fear of predatory rent hikes by turkey vulture-owned management companies. The average rent for a skinny mid-level branch birdhouse in Central Park has gone up 40% since 2019. Birdhouses in Prospect Park are up 50%. And let's be honest, none of us really want to live in Queens.
Mourning doves should not have to bid to live on a fire escape with six fire-escape-mates. No sparrow should have to bid on a dilapidated old nest made of paper straws on a knobbly termite-infested tree next to a dumpster in Chinatown (though it does have really nice natural light). Landlords living upstairs are constantly defecating on us. Yes, they are pigeons, yes, we are sort of used to that kind of treatment. But that doesn't make it ok.
Our grandparents tell us we are squawking and just don't want to work. They are living in luxury birdhouses hanging off balconies in the Upper West Side that they paid mere confetti bits for in the '80s. The truth is, we are working harder than ever, and wasting all our life savings renting. We are paying through the beak for a birdhouse the size of a hummingbird egg in Hell’s Kitchen to live with roommates. Squirrels break in and eat all of our seeds. So what if that squirrel is actually our roommate's boyfriend? We should be able to live alone by now!
We didn't think we would still be contemplating moving back into our parents' nests as we enter the prime of our lives. It makes the prospect of mating season a real drag. We are ready to dance and sing, and show off our bright and beautiful feathers, so that we can spread our wings and lay our eggs in the one-bedroom, two-birdbath birdhouse we always dreamed of.
We may all be seeking a cozy enclave in Washington Square Park, but we know we may have to be flexible and live somewhere further away, like in Fort Tryon Park. But things are getting desperate. The birdhouses in Liberty State Park are almost starting to look appealing. But we are New York birds, and frankly, we'd rather be eaten by a cat than move to New Jersey.
Our brains may be small, but we know we deserve better. Please enact better rent controls, and build more affordable birdhouses, at the very least. You are the ideas people, we are only birds.
Thank you for your consideration of this letter and your work to improve the lives of all birds in all boroughs.
The Birds of NYC