Hundreds of birds may have died of fear after fireworks were set off on New Year’s Eve.

Their bodies littered the streets of Rome, Italy after the celebrations, despite a ban on fireworks in the city.

Animal rights campaigners have branded it a “massacre”.

Footage of the area near the city’s main train station, Roma Termini, showed the bodies of birds, mostly starlings, lying on the ground.

The International Organisation for the Protection of Animals (IOPA) said it was likely caused by fireworks and firecrackers.

These were set off in the neighbourhood many birds use to roost, Sky News reported.

IOPA Spokeswoman Loredana Diglio said: "It can be that they died from fear.

Dead birds were spotted on the streets of Rome
Hundreds of dead birds were found on the streets

“They can fly up together and knock against each other, or hit windows or electric power lines.

“Let’s not forget they can also die of heart attacks.”

A firework ban in the city was widely ignored on New Year’s Eve.

Rome also put a 10pm curfew in place in order to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The IOPA in Italy has called for a ban on selling fireworks and firecrackers for personal use because of the risk to animals.

A ban on fireworks on New Year's Eve was ignored
Fireworks were set off in Rome despite a ban

A person who filmed footage of the birds called it “unbelievable” and “the disgusting side of human nature”, the Sun reports.

The RSPB says there is “little evidence” to suggest fireworks harm wild birds or affect their conservation status.

But it has urged caution and said it will “continue to monitor the situation and research to ensure the best course of action for wild bird conservation”.

Its advice says: “Setting off fireworks close to nesting and roosting birds can cause disturbance.

“To minimise any adverse impact of fireworks on birds, we urge organisers of firework displays to avoid launching the rockets near to sensitive wildlife areas, such as nature reserves, and nesting and roosting sites for wild birds.”