Strolling through the streets of Rome takes on an added element of danger every spring, when carrion crows guarding their chicks swoop down to attack passing humans, regarding them as a danger. Humans return the sentiment. The crows "are everywhere," one woman said after being attacked by a pair before she sent them flying away. "You must know how to protect yourself." Crows are especially aggressive during the month or so before fledglings leave the nest, the New York Times reports. People pull jackets over their heads to protect themselves, or carry umbrellas or sticks. It doesn't always work. "We hear people screaming from our office," an accountant said. Conservationists said they've gotten calls from angry people saying that more effort is put into protecting birds than humans.
The conservationists put some of the blame on human behavior. There's plenty of mice and trash in Rome for the crows to snack on. Some people feed the birds, which is the wrong message. They also play down the threat to people, saying at most they receive a few scratches. But that's not what a woman who helped an older victim saw. "Blood gushed out of her head. Her T-shirt was soaked," she said. The only advice offered pedestrians it to not carry black bags or umbrellas or wear a black hat, which could appear to crows to be another crow under threat. Some people run to their cars or change their routes. Dubai has a similar problem, and similar screams from the streets, per Esquire. "It's terrifying," a stylist there said. "I've been scared to leave the office all day." (Read more crows stories.)