ROME — On a sunny Thursday afternoon along a tree-lined street in Rome, locals shielded themselves with umbrellas. Others pulled jackets above their heads in fear. Some grabbed wooden sticks for protection.

The crows were out and the fight was on.

Two black carrion crows swooped down on the unprotected head of a woman passing by. They yanked her gray hair with their beaks and hooked her shirt with their talons. She swung at them with a shopping bag containing frozen pizza, managing to shoo them away.

“They are everywhere,” the woman, Paola Amabile, a 66-year-old retiree, said as she tidied her hair. “You must know how to protect yourself.”

Every spring, as Rome’s sprawling crow population is consumed with weaning newborn fledglings, some streets become avian terror areas. The birds, protecting their chicks, treat most passing humans as threats.

predatory sea gulls, and a deluge of bird poop every year when up to a million starlings stop in the city during their yearly migration from Northern Europe. The annual attack of the crows is one ornithological headache they could do without.

“We hear people screaming from our office,” Martina Massari, an accountant who was attacked this week, said from under a green umbrella.

“My mother no longer comes to visit me,” said a lawyer, Elisabetta Giannubilo, before grabbing a wooden stick and running to her car under the menacing gaze of a perched crow.

“I cannot go to school through the main entrance because I am too scared,” said Flavia Tomassini, 18, who was also

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