Surge in eye injuries as Melbourne magpies go on attack spree

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A penetrated eye that needed surgery is just one of an “extraordinary” spate of -inflicted injuries in Melbourne, and one hospital has issued a warning about the swooping birds.

The number of eye injuries caused by the bird has risen significantly, according to the emergency director of the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear hospital, Dr Carmel Crock.

“Normally, we might see one or two a month,” she told ABC radio on Thursday. “But in July we saw 14 cases of bird eye injuries. August there were 12.

“In the last week, we saw five in the one day, including a penetrating eye injury that needed to go to theatre.”

A magpie swoops on a cyclist. During spring, the male birds dive down on cyclists, pedestrians and runners who go near nests

Many attacks took place in Lonsdale Street, Punt Road, Lygon Street and Heffernan Lane in the CBD, Crock said.

The “extraordinary” number of incidents led several staff registrars to ask hospital executives to take action, she said. “We really just did want to warn the public.

“Although a lot of the injuries are quite minor … they can really go all the way through and cause a penetrating injury, with bleeding and bruising at the back of the eye.”

’s swooping season starts in spring as predominantly male magpies dive down on cyclists, pedestrians and runners who go near nests.

There have been 3,253 recorded attacks and 518 injuries linked to magpies across the country in 2017, according to the Magpie Alert website.

Of the total, 702 attacks occurred in Victoria, which ranks third behind New South Wales and for number of attacks.

This article was first published by The Guardian on 19 Oct 2017.


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Rikki Salty

we have been attacking, imprisoning, killing and maiming animals for years, maybe its time they had a go at us!

Robyn Youlten

There has been SO MUCH building and tearing down of trees in the suburbs that the poor Magpies have had to resort to all kinds of accommodation and OF COURSE they are protective of their nests and their young…imagine what we look like to a Magpie!Methinks the human is the problem here NOT the Magpie.It annoys me the way people speak of wildlife as ‘pests’ when the wildlife is the NATURAL and HUMANS are in fact the ‘alien invaders’.Put some food along the trails where they swoop and half the problem solved.Sorry about those who have been inured…but the magpie… Read more »

M Leybra
M Leybra

Humanity is everywhere, used to be only hunters that plagued wildlife, now human habitat is everywhere means magpies have been displaced by cyclists, pedestrians & runners. No room for animals.

Nancy Griffin
Nancy Griffin

In Michigan, during May and June, the red winged blackbirds harass bicyclists if they are riding too close to their nests. I don’t think they attack the eye, but they may come close to your head in an effort to scare you away from their nest.

Debby Lindsay

They are such a smart and beautiful bird. A lot of birds in the US will do the same if you come near their nesting, even if you don’t know it. I have seen crows chase a man down the street and he was just walking casually. It’s just nature..and Life we have to accept and deal with 🙂

Sofie L. Forsberg

I guess the Magpies feel threatened in some ways…?