Magpie Tries to Gouge Man's Eyes Out After He Refused to Share His Food

An Australian man suffered serious eye injuries in an attack by a magpie as he was eating lunch outside and refused to share his food with the bird.

James Glindemann, 68, was sat on a park bench in Sale, southeastern Australia, on Tuesday when the incident occurred.

"I sat down at a bench there and the magpie came up and I started talking to it because I like them," Glindemann told ABC News. "And it looked at me and I didn't give it any food, so it just attacked me."

"First it struck my left eye and when it landed back on the ground, I didn't drop my food and so it attacked me again in the right eye."

The attack was over in a matter of seconds, but the bird managed to inflict serious damage.

"There was some blood that was dripping at one stage and it covered my eyes... I could barely see, but I managed to find my car and I rang triple-0," he said, referring to Australia's main emergency services number.

Paramedics rushed Glindemann to a local hospital, before he was flown to a specialist eye hospital in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state.

Medical staff at the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital told Glindemann that his right eyeball had not been damaged, although the area around it was very inflamed.

The left eyeball had suffered serious damage as the magpie penetrated the cornea—the outermost layer of the eye. Glindemann underwent a 2-hour operation to repair the damage.

Glindemann said that his vision was "blurred" in both eyes. Doctors told him they were confident that he would fully recover.

Dr. Thomas Campbell said the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital treats around 60 patients every year for injuries that have been caused by birds.

"There's a wide range of injuries, from just scratches on the surface of the eye, right through to the very severe injuries where the claws of the bird may actually penetrate into the eye," Campbell told ABC.

"Roughly every year we have at least one person who suffers a serious injury where they lose some amount of sight permanently... some have marked vision loss and others just lose a little bit of vision at first and require multiple operations to get their regular vision back."

Campbell said that we shouldn't blame the magpies entirely when they attack people.

"Magpies are beautiful birds that are just doing their best to co-exist with us, and unfortunately sometimes we interact with them and harm is a result of that," he said.

The period between August and October is swooping season for magpies in this part of Australia, Victoria's Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning said. The birds breed at this time and swooping—where the animals descend rapidly to harass potential threats—is a behavior intended to protect their eggs and young.

Stock image showing a magpie. An Australian man was hosptalized with serious eye injuries after being attacked by a magpie. iStock