“Why here?” The dirty squab asked with a plaintive whine, “It’s so noisy here.”
“Eat” boomed an imperious brown-and-white, and scowled at the squab with fierce amber eyes.
The squab walked a few steps on the smeared bricks an pecked at something that it thought was grain. It was flecks of yellow paint. The squab walked away.
“Why here?” the scruffy squab asked, shuffling its pink-pink feet, “There’s no shelter here. What if it rains?”
“Eat” cooed a motherly standard (with more than a bit of Rock Dove in her colouring), “Get fat and healthy and find a shiny female.” She fluffed the dust off her feathers.
The squab took a running hop-flap into the air to catch what he thought was a juicy flower. It was a tattered bit of blue plastic. The squab walked away.
“Why here?” The hungry squab muttered, trying to sneeze the plastic taste out of its beak.
“Lost. Lover. SPECIALIST! Checkers! Birthday savings. City views from Carlton centre, going Cheeeeeeep!” cackled the one-eyed mess of skin and feathers, feet trapped together with a twist of thrown-away string. She bounced across a forgotten newspaper towards him, snapped her beak and added, “Oranges. Now SHOWING at the mahket theatah.”
The squab ran.
“Why here?!” the squab demanded in desperation. It fluffed itself up and pulled into the tiny bit of shadow cast by the tall metal sheet.
“Because we sang of flying,” said the metal origami pigeon.
“The metal sang under the sculptor’s hands of flying and the city artists heard and made us. They brought us here, and we sang you down to us with songs of flight. That is why here.”
The squab gaped.
“Come, little bird. Come and sit on a perch here with me and let me listen to your wings.” The towering pigeon-sculpture said.
Tentatively the squab flies up to a stiff steel rod, looking around at the bobbing sea of feathered bodies. No other pigeon seems to hear.
“You sang me here? How?”
“Because you, like the city artists, little squab knew how to listen. Not every bird does, nor every artist. You knew how to hear us and so we sang you down out of the blue, into the grey-and-traffic.”
The squab pecked a feather louse off its shoulder and thought about hunger and spilled popcorn. After a while it said, “What else can you sing?”
“That,” the metal-pigeon replied, “depends on whether you can speak of flight as well as do it. If you’re any good, I might sing you a daydreaming student with an unguarded sandwich.”
This glorious pigeon-island is on the corner of Commissioner and Miriam Makeba streets just south of Newtown, across the way from the family court.
It is an easy walk along Miriam Makeba from the safe parking in Mary Fitzgerald square, which you can get into by turning right onto Carr street from the Nelson Mandela Bridge, left from Carr street into Quinn street just past the off-ramp and left again from Quinn into Bree. The entrance to the parking will be on your right, just before you drive past the square.
I highly re-coo-mend a visit.