An Australian man almost had his eye plucked out by a vicious magpie amid a worse-than-usual “swooping season.”
James Glindemann, 68, had to undergo surgery on his eye after he opened a container of Chinese takeout at an outdoor mall near Melbourne — and the shrewd squawker pounced, according to The Guardian.
“A juvenile magpie sat down in front of me, I had a one-way conversation for a few seconds and it was just looking at me,” Glindemann told the outlet. “I started to open the lunchbox, the next thing I knew, the bird had flown at my face and struck me in the left eye.”
But Glindemann still didn’t let go of his meal, prompting the feathered savage to strike again.
“The bird sat on the concrete in front of me, and saw I hadn’t dropped the food, or I think that was what its thinking was,” Glindemann said. “It immediately attacked the right-hand side of my face, on the eye with a fair bit of force, and drew some blood.”
Glindemann tried to escape the animal — which are highly intelligent, and recognize individual faces — but his vision got frighteningly blurry, he said.
“The closer I got to [my] car, the worse my eyesight was getting. I looked in the mirror to see the extent of the damage and I couldn’t focus at all on it.”
He then called an ambulance and was taken to a local hospital, where he underwent surgery for two hours.
Roughly 60 patients this year have checked into the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital bird-related injuries, experts have said.
Magpie swooping season may be worse this year due to coronavirus-fueled mask mandates in the area, experts in the area have warned. The birds are spooked by masks and “tend to swoop the people they see as a threat,” said Sean Dooley of Birdlife Australia.
But Glindemann, who had removed his face covering to eat before the attack, said his vision has since improved.
“On the first day I couldn’t see my hand if I raised it front of me,” he said. “Now I can count my fingers if I only look through my left eye.”
Amazingly, he doesn’t hold a grudge.
“I still like magpies, I love them,” he said. “However, I think this bird’s made a bit of a bad mistake.”