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Starling

In Rome, Starling Stalkers Try to Scare the Birds Out of Town

ROME -- Giovanni Albarella won't back down from a street fight, even though he's always outnumbered.As the sun goes down, Mr. Albarella often squares off against millions of birds that cloud the skies of this ancient city.European starlings -- birds individually small enough to fit in a hand -- are collectively a menace. They swoop and poop indiscriminately, clearing Rome's outdoor cafes, frightening children and, more recently, forcing an emergency landing of a Boeing 737.Mr. Albarella says he has a method to shoo the birds away. Backed by city hall, the 37-year-old conservationist and a team of assistants criss-cross Rome with high-powered megaphones that they point at trees teeming with starlings. The goal: to drive the birds out of the city and back to the countryside.The megaphones emit what Mr. Albarella calls a "heart-rending scream" -- a recording of starlings issuing a screeching distress call.The sound, he says, is the only way to drive the birds from their roosts without har...

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