The annual starling "distress call" operation, to dissuade the birds from flying above certain streets of Rome, begin this week in the Ostia, Prati, Viale Mazzini and Stazione Termini areas.

Starlings show a preference for these particular areas, much to the chagrin of local residents who complain of the noise, dirt and discomfort that the birds cause.

For this reason, city authorities and birdlife protection society Lipu will use the tried and tested system of reproducing and amplifying the "distress screech" emitted by the starlings themselves when faced with danger. This system is reported not to be harmful to the birds. It is predicted that the operation will last around three days for a maximum of two consecutive hours per session.

Every winter, Rome hosts an average of four million starlings which are attracted by the city's warm climate, green areas, large amounts of refuse and even the traffic, which emits heat.

If you would like to signal the presence of starlings in your area telephone 063201269 (Mon-Fri, 16.00-18.00) or e-mail animaliroma@easypet.com.