Best time to travel to Rome

Starling Murmuration in Rome

A few millions of birds over the city—a fanciful natural phenomenon to observe, and also a poopocalypse for the city's utility services

Best time: November–February

Starling Murmuration
Starling Murmuration

The fact that from around a million to 5 millions of starlings choose the city of Rome as their wintering ground might appear as a blessing, but there is another side of it. To view such a numerous birds' congregation hurling in unison over Roman domes is great, but remember that birds also have their natural needs, and it's not very pleasant to live in a city drowned in starlings' droppings. Besides, birds' poop corrodes monuments and creates slippery roads, which leads to accidents. It would be more bearable if the birds stopped by for a short period, but this is the entire winter, and sometimes even longer. Therefore, to some Romans the starlings' visit is, to be honest, unwanted.

You might be surprised, but the city's government usually takes the so-called bird-scaring measures to reduce the number of avian visitors. In particular, some artificial falcons and sonic birds are placed on the trees along Timber river, known to be starlings' roosting place.

Anyway, whether you like it or not, and despite the efforts of city, starlings continue to arrive. And instead of grumping about the mess, the best you can do is look on its brighter side, in other words—calm down and enjoy winter sunset shows with starlings in the main role. This pre-roosting performance, scientifically called starling murmuration, takes place between November and December, and despite all complaints, it remains one of the world's greatest natural phenomena. On spring's arrival, the birds will depart to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia.

A popular watching place is Piazza dei Cinquecento near Termini station, but throughout winter the birds manage to inspect the entire city. An umbrella might be of great use.

Practical info

When is the best time to observe the large-scale group movement of starlings in Rome?

To be able to observe the large-scale group movement of starlings in Rome, it's best to go to the city between November and February since the birds gather in huge numbers during these wintering months. It's advised to come prepared with warm clothes and waterproof clothing since the temperatures during the period can be extremely cold. You can observe this truly spectacular sight in different parts of the city if you avoid wearing white to escape bird droppings stains. Show more

Which location is ideal to view starling murmuration in Rome?

If you want a convenient and popular location to view the starling murmuration in Rome, opt for Piazza dei Cinquecento near Termini station. However, the birds show up throughout the city, so you can brace yourself with an umbrella to protect yourself from bird droppings when you find your best location. Wearing white when wine tasting isn't desirable, as the stains are resistant to cleaning efforts, and you don't want to deal with that. Show more

What is the duration of the starlings' stay in Rome in winter?

Starlings will stay in Rome during the winter and occasionally beyond. As early as November and as late as February, the birds arrive, but they return to their breeding grounds in Scandinavia during spring. It's notable that during their elongated stay, the city has to cope with the problems arising around their existence, including droppings on roads and monuments, windscreen wipers, corroding iron car parts, among others. Show more

What are some of the measures implemented by Rome to address the starling issue?

The city of Rome has implemented various methods to handle the problem of starlings, including the installation of artificial falcons or sonic birds on Timber river trees where the birds roost. Despite these measures, the birds continue to flock to Rome during the winter season. People, rather than complaining, should take advantage of the fantastic opportunity to observe starling murmuration. Show more

How does the presence of starlings in Rome influence the city's infrastructural development?

Starlings' presence in Rome causes a significant impact on the city's infrastructure. Their droppings can wear out monuments and render roads dangerously slippery, leading to accidents. To avoid inconvenience, the city's infrastructure must be audited and cleaned regularly. Although not everyone is a fan of their stay, Rome's administration is making efforts to reduce negative impacts while allowing its people to appreciate the stunning starling murmuration spectacle during winter months. Show more

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