I think the cropping is the best you can get from that image, but would have preferred an image with the statue positioned differently relative to the pigeon than it is, more upward and to the right. The post/pigeon and statue feel a little cramped, too close to each other. On the other hand, I imagine you can't really tell the pigeon, "Hold that pose for a minute while I move over here..."
To be honest, I didn't notice the photo was using Michael's technique until I reread your words. I just thought it was a very gray, low-color lighting condition. Oops. On the other hand, that's an indication that you must have applied the technique very well, since it was so natural-looking.
I've seen the broad light halos like the one you mention on occasion in my work too. Not sure exactly what causes it (since I've never investigated it in detail). Do you use local contrast enhancement? That would be my first guess. Second guess would be sharpening techniques.