Millions of starlings have sent residents of Rome running for cover as cars and buildings have been coated in droppings, while a cash-strapped city council fails to prevent the deluge.

It is estimated that approximately four million starlings gather in the Italian Capital every year in two waves - one in October and one in January.

However, austerity measures have thwarted council efforts to prevent the birds from settling in central areas, resulting in a "hailstorm" of bird excrement near the Tiber River.

In past years, the local authority had the resources to minimise the mess caused by starlings with a 100,000 euro budget, but this was cut earlier in the year.

As dusk falls in the city, the areas around the river, especially the tree-lined Lungotevere boulevard, are targeted by starlings with parked cars, moped drivers and cyclists the worst hit.

Sections of such boulevards around the river are covered in a thick layer of droppings which have created slippery dangers for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists.

This has resulted in residents using umbrellas as shields against the barrage of bird poo, as well as banging pots and pans in the streets to scare the birds away.

Former anti-starling procedures included pruning trees where the birds settle and transmitting loud bird of prey cries through loudspeakers.

The birds have flocked to Rome in the winter for decades, moving closer to the city centre every year attracted by the heat of its buildings.

Starling deposits hit cash-strapped Rome
Starling deposits hit cash-strapped Rome