Italy: Rome drowns in bird droppings as austerity bites

Car covered in bird droppings

Rome is facing a "guano alarm" as millions of starlings leave the city covered in a thick layer of droppings, Italian media report.

Some four million starlings annually overwinter in the capital, but this year spending cuts have derailed efforts to discourage the birds from settling in central areas. In previous years, anti-starling measures have included pruning plane trees and broadcasting amplified cries of birds of prey through loudspeakers.

But such efforts have not been put into action in 2013, so the birds have deposited a thick layer of droppings on streets, vehicles and buildings, reports La Stampa.

The tree-lined Lungotevere, the boulevard running along the river Tiber, is particularly badly affected. Sections of it are thick with droppings, creating slip hazards for pedestrians, cyclists and motorbike riders alike. Photos published by Corriere della Sera show vehicles blanketed with guano. Pedestrians arm themselves with umbrellas or run for cover. The situation is so bad that some residents bang on pots and pans in the streets and squares to scare the birds away, just as people used to do in years gone by.

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