Residents of Rome recently thought about the William Gibson science fiction novel the Neuromancer which starts with the line, the sky over the port the color of television turned into a dead channel. The novel had the setting of Chiba City in Japan during 1984, but this is just what the sky looked above Rome in 2018. A photograph was put online to show the sky over the city of Rome, and it looked just as though it w
Sunset Is Blocked Out By Many Thousands of Birds
In the photograph, you can just about see what remains of the sunset, which is struggling against the black and white that has turned the sky into nothing but static. There is not much that can be seen of the fading blue sky, all one can see is a huge mass of black specs with very little light shining from between them and subduing the sun into a corner.
In reality, of course, it is not TV static that is filling the sky and blocking out any light. It is many thousands of starlings. The sky is blanketed with thousands upon thousands of the birds, fluttering around and making the sky look as though it is static on a TV. The starlings are a small and sometimes annoying bird with a nice singing voice. They return to Rome each year in large numbers to get away from the cold weather of Eastern Europe. People have estimated that there are around four million of the birds each year in Rome and they flock to the region as it is relatively warm when compared to other regions at this time of year. Four million does sound about right if they are going to obstruct the light from the sky overhead.
It’s Not the Static That Is Worrying but the Huge Amount of Bird Poop
A large number of starlings turned Rome into something that looks like the set of a science fiction movie, but this is the least of the worries of the residents. What they fear the most is the amount of bird poop that litters the streets and is found everywhere. Residents complain about it being on the streets, the buildings, vehicles, and trees, in thick layers. He starlings are said to eat olives from the many olive groves, and this means that their droppings are very oily.