The Banksy of Birdhouses


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May 08, 2023

The Banksy of Birdhouses

If you’ve noticed what sounds like more chirping of birds here on the East End,

If you’ve noticed what sounds like more chirping of birds here on the East End, you’re not alone. It just so happens that the Covid-19 shutdown has coincided with many species’ migration patterns, The New York Times reported last week, and less traffic and activity over all means their songs can be heard more easily.

And, if you’ve noticed quite a few new birdhouses in Amagansett, you’re not alone, either.

"They are all different and charming, and my family has certainly enjoyed spotting them daily as we walk our dog," Meredith Cairns, a resident of the hamlet, said of the birdhouses this week. "I think they are a lovely addition to Amagansett."

The birdhouses are the work of Michael Cinque, the owner of Amagansett Wine and Spirits, who for many years has made them primarily out of old wine boxes and crates.

"Making sawdust is really what I do," he said recently. "Occasionally, we get birdhouses out of them."

Only the finest wines still arrive in wooden boxes, he said. "I have an endless supply of boxes, because we sell only great wine."

There are three at the Amagansett train station, and three more by the Atlantic Avenue tennis courts. He put them up at the corner of Skimhampton Road and Further Lane, on Cranberry Hole Road near Montauk Highway, and on Bluff Road near the Marine Museum. On the dunes at Indian Wells Beach, there's even a birdhouse that has a weathervane on top.

Mr. Cinque gives them as gifts and sells them at the liquor store. Proceeds from birdhouse sales are donated to local charities, he said.

"The birds wanted them. They need homes in the Hamptons, too," he said. "I started having so many that I am just putting them up. I don't ask permission — I just do it."

And anyway, who would protest such a thing?

He is like the Banksy of birdhouses, though the work of the elusive Banksy (in England) is street art, not nature art.

Mr. Cinque, who also owns two Sag Harbor restaurants, Sag Pizza and LT Burger, is among those who have heard more birds lately.

"I’m very aware of the sounds," he said. "I wish I had the time to spend watching birds more and getting to know their calls, but I can identify some. I can't name the bird to all of them, but there is a lot of singing these days, which is really great."

Mr. Cinque has a woodshop at his house where he spends a lot of late nights making things. Many of those hours were dedicated to building alongside his two sons, who are now 28 and 30. It only makes sense that Mr. Cinque, a former Boy Scout leader, would take up building birdhouses.

"I’m a local guy — the luckiest guy in the world," he said.