Zebra finches are such cute little things. Tame finches are, generally; their little twitters and flutters instantly adorable. The Barbican's oddly shaped gallery isn't encaged, like a usual aviary. Instead the birds are behind a barrier of darkness and scary noises, which you walk through, along a boardwalk over sand and maran grass, straggling to nothing in the darkness, human curiosity easily overcoming the dark and the strange noises.
In the bright lamps at the end, zebra finches flirt and flutter. Two have built a nest on a bass guitar; others peck at seeds on a cymbal (other cymbals contain water). Some have colonised nestboxes, scamper among the maran grass or perch on speakers; the noise of their furtling and hopping is quiet, non-instrusive.
Two land on my shoulder, then another. They're trying to impress each other with how bold they are. Two are down in the sand, preening each other with absolute focus; two are on the guitar above, trying to build a nest, while a third tries to cut in. Some people duck, but most just stand, bemused as flutters of little birds take them for temporary perches, and then fly on. An Italian lady has five finches on her handbag; I have one in my hood.
They are all quite tame and quite calm. We examine them closely; their feathers bear sportish colour variations, signature of the domesticated animal; they are ringed with bright little plastic anklets. I gesture at a guitar and one lands on my arm. The two who were preening when we came in, are still preening. Two are trying to build a nest behind the fire extinguisher; another is pulling out threads of maran grass, gifts for another half-formed nest.
They get a long flight in that space, but look back and you can see them wheel back as they brush the edge of that noisy, fearsome darkness.
This is a bit more rawk + green than the version they have at the Curve, but it's enough to give you the idea: