Starling Dung Rains Down on Rome

Cutbacks in city funding this year have left officials with fewer resources to combat the mess left behind by starlings. (Chris Helgren/Reuters/Corbis)

When in Rome, carry an umbrella, say locals. The city is currently at war with an annual migration of starlings that shower the streets with feces - and the humans are losing.

In a recent report by Italian newspaper La Stampa, Lipu, the Bird Protection League, stated that the city council funds that are traditionally designated for discouraging the birds were delayed this year. As a result, fewer resources have been available to combat the starlings, and areas such as Campo and along the River Tiber have suffered from the deluge.

"The sidewalks are a torture, some impassable except by fisherman boots," wrote Mattia Felts in La Stampa.

Approximately 5 million birds travel to Rome during the annual migration, which takes place from October through January. The starlings dine on olive groves surrounding the city, then leave their mess covering cars, sidewalks and more. In the past, the city has hired workers who walk around with loudspeakers that screech warnings of a nearby falcon to dissuade the birds. Those efforts typically begin in October but have been pushed back by the delayed funding.

So, many residents are staying indoors or taking cover.

"If you do get pooped on, just tell everyone it's good luck and carry on," advised the blog RomeStyle, which is written in English for travelers and expats. "It's kind of a rite of passage."

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