A pigeon over a white background.

Image: Shutterstock

The humble and much-insulted pigeon has been an icon of New York City since the first skyscrapers went up. And now, thanks to artist Duke Riley, public arts organization Creative Time and their Fly by Night project, it’s the pigeon’s time to shine.

Riley, 43, has been raising pigeons for twenty years. He has Homers and Flights, Russian High Flyers, Rollers and Tumblers, and Syrian Damascene pigeons in his own flock, and will be joined by dozens of other pigeoneers. Several thousand of the birds will be fitted with tiny LED lights on leg bands and released into the sky above the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

“It’s combining all of my main interests and wildest dreams into one project,” Riley said of the project. He says the illuminated pigeons will give the illusion of thousands of shooting stars flying around Brooklyn.

The different breeds of birds fly in different patterns, so the LEDs will flow in a variety of constellations during and just after sunset, when the grounded audience will be able to take in their flight patterns.

Fly by Night will be centered on the neglected and long-empty US Navy’s pigeon coop at the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s Cob Dock. It will run every weekend night from May 7 to June 12, 2016. Admission is free with an RSVP visitors can make at the link above.