Rome’s Annual Plague of Bird Poop

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Up to five million starling birds call Rome their winter vacation home and cover the city and everything in it with a layer of poop, but this year’s budget cuts make the situation even worse.

Every year, Rome faces a scene similar to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Up to five million starling birds call Rome their winter vacation home and cover the city and everything in it with a layer of poop, but this year’s budget cuts make the situation even worse.

Historically, the city has spent more than 200,000 U.S. dollars annually on efforts to keep the birds away from busy areas of the city so as to protect their historic statues, fountains, and buildings as well as their vehicles, streets, and pedestrians. These measures have included everything from reducing the number of roosting spots through pruning trees to making the birds think they’re in danger by using loudspeakers to play the calls of birds of prey.

Since the city has decided to cut this spending in 2013, the birds and their sticky grayish white poop have increasingly taken over the city and sent people running under the cover of umbrellas. When mixed with rain water, the poop becomes slippery, causing all kinds of accidents and falls.

Some local residents have resorted to chasing the birds away the old-fashioned way: by marching into streets armed with pots and pans banging together.

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