On the wing

THE local character known as ‘Birdman,’ Alex Milivojevic, has reportedly died.

Originally from Serbia, Mr Milivojevic was well-known through Highgate, North Perth and Northbridge, often seen playing chess, visiting the TAB, or out on his bike, and always hanging out with his pet corella Cheeky.

Film industry figure Ian Hale reported Mr Milivojevic’s death and says his social media post about the passing saw an outpouring of love and warmth toward the Birdman. 

Mr Hale often bumped into Mr Milivojevic over the years, first photographing him 15 years ago as he played chess in Hyde Park. While they’d usually just say a few words, he says the news still hit him hard.

“To me, it shows the impact people have on your life, even when you don’t know they’re having it,” he tells us.

When he heard Mr Milivojevic had died, Mr Hale contacted Screenwest who curate the Yagan Square screen, and asked if they’d play the 2013 short documentary The Disappearance by Ali Almond (née-Winters).

It told the story of Mr Milivojevic’s friendship with his first pet cockatoo Cheeky, before the bird went missing in 2012. 

“Forty four years we are together,” he said in the film. “Many times I would cry, cry, and think, where is my Cheeky?”

After a desperate search was unsuccessful, he made a new friend, Cheeky II. As of going to print, we don’t know if Cheeky II has been adopted, but the birds can live til 70. 

Ms Almond, now living in New Zealand, told us: “I hope he did have his pet Cheeky with him to the very end… I saw how much that bird was like a significant other in his life.

“He chose to live life in society on his own terms and not participate in the normal social constraints or constructions. He chose to do it his own way, and he genuinely had a deep connection with nature and the birds around him… he was content, he was happy.

“He was an eccentric person, but he brought his eccentricity to the public, to the outside world, and let us all share a part of that, and it’s really sad that now we’ve lost that vibrancy and colour in the city.

“Anyone who hung around the city for a period of their life, they’ll have an Alex story, they’ll either have had a cigarette with him or played a game of chess with him.”

Ms Almond says she took him along to the premiere screening and “he got more of a thrill out of seeing Cheeky on the big screen than seeing himself. He really was such a modest man. It was lovely seeing the joy he got from seeing the bird he lost up there on screen”.

The Disappearance will be on the Yagan Square screen at 6pm on Thursdays and Fridays for at least the next three weeks. 

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