In 2009, the New Yorker declared chickens the "it bird" and heralded "the return of the backyard chicken." This honor occurred as, a host of American cities were changing their laws to allow chickens in residents’ backyards. Philip Levy, a sometime chicken keeper himself, mixes cultural history with husbandry to chronicle the weird and wonderful story of Americans’ urban chickens. From the streets of Brooklyn to council chambers in Albany to the beat of Key West’s Chicken Nuisance Patrol, yard birds are an important and growing part of American city life.

Part history, part travelogue, and part reportage, Yard Birds takes the reader on a tour-de-force journey across America, past and present, to profile its urban chickens housed in luxury coops or dying at yearly rituals. What emerges is a compelling picture of city chickens that can both serve as hipster status symbols and guarantee that the families keeping them have at least something to eat. Levy’s smart and entertaining investigation of the contemporary urban chicken craze reveals that poultry flocks were historically an integral part of America’s urban spaces; chickens have simply returned home now, some to very fancy roosts.

Find a BookFor Our AuthorsRights and PermissionsRotunda Digital ImprintSupport UVA PressCareer OpportunitiesWalker Cowen Memorial PrizePrivacy Policy
  • P.O. Box 400318 (Postal)
  • Charlottesville, VA 22904-4318
  • 210 Sprigg Lane (Courier)
  • Charlottesville, VA 22903-2417
  • 434 924-3468 (main)
  • 1-800-831-3406 (toll-free)
  • 434 982-2655 (fax)
support uva press
Be a part of
the future
of publishing
Support UVA Press
uva logo
aup member
© 2022 UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA PRESS