No funds to deal with Rome's starlings

Starling problem worst along Lungotevere

Rome's annual campaign to move the capital’s troublesome wintering starlings away from central areas will not take place this year, due to lack of funds.

Around this time every year up to four million starlings congregrate in the capital, mainly along the Lungotevere, however city funding for the birds' removal programme has been axed, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

The starlings' anti-social side effects make the Lungotevere an inhospitable place for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, particularly the stretch between Ponte Sisto and Ponte Garibaldi.

In the past the city moved the starlings by using the “distress call” technique, a type of amplified alarm that mimics a call of danger used by starlings in the wild.  

The bicycle association BiciRoma, which has 9,000 members, has called on the city for action, claiming that the Lungotevere bicycle path is not only unhygenic but also dangerous due to the sheer amount of bird droppings on the ground.

Motorists who park their cars on the Lungotevere during this period often return to find their vehicles virtually unrecognisable while pedestrians in the area can be seen either armed with umbrellas or else running for cover.

In recent decades the number of starlings in the capital has increased dramatically. The birds are attracted by the city’s artificially-high urban climate, less rainfall and wind, and the virtual absence of predators. And while their swirling flight patterns provide a spectacular show in the skies above Rome, the notion of four million bird droppings raining down is less than cherished by the city's residents.