Evil magpies that ‘remember faces’ injure hundreds if ‘they don’t share food’

Extremely "aggressive" magpies in Australia that jam their beaks in people's eyes, chase cyclists and gouge children's faces force the closure of public spaces every year, and the problem is getting worse.

Victoria, a state in southeast Australia, is hit particularly hard by "magpie swooping season", and dozens of people are left with bloody injuries because of the angry birds – who even target faces they remember.

The Magpie Alert website has recorded 3276 attacks so far in 2022, with 447 injuries as a result.

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And the attacks could even be personal vendettas the birds have for individuals, according to experts.

“There is a chance, because what we do know is magpies can recognise individual people,” Birdlife Australia’s Sean Dooley said in August 2020.

“If you think a magpie has it in for you, you’re probably right. Research has shown magpies can recognise up to at least 100 different people and we think the main factor is facial recognition.

“They tend to swoop the people they see as a threat.”

Swooping season reaches its peak in September-October, as the birds breed and guard their nests.

But the reasons for their attacks can be even more trivial. James Glindemann from Sale, Victoria, said he was leapt at by a magpie for not sharing his lunch.

The then 68-year-old was sitting on a park bench eating Chinese food when a magpie appeared at his feet in October 2020.

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"It looked at me and I didn't give it any food, so it just attacked me," he told Daily Mail Australia.

"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 bird's beak penetrated his cornea and he was rushed to hospital where he underwent emergency two hour surgery to save his vision.

He added: "I would suggest people wear sunglasses all the time when they're outside as I suspect that bird will swoop people whether its swooping season or not."

In the same week, Jennifer Dyer was sitting outside the shopping centre with a coffee and food when she was targeted and also needed emergency surgery.

Eighteen-year-old Jamie Corbett escaped with just a cut to his eyelid when he was attacked in the exact same area as Mr Glindemann and Ms Dyer.

The state hired a contractor to hunt down and kill the two birds responsible.

Gisela Kaplan, a veteran professor in animal behaviour at the University of New England, said she has never seen such aggressive behaviour from the birds.

"Something is happening in their environment, in their interaction, in their contact with people," she said.

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More recently, in September, four-year-old Archer Natoli was left with a bloodied face when a magpie swooped at him at Bicentennial Park in Chelsea, in Melbourne’s southeast.

“All of a sudden the maggie just swooped me. I felt sad because it hurt me,” Archer told 7NEWS. There were several children hurt in multiple incidents that day.

As a result, the park was cordoned off and nobody was allowed in, but long-term there is no quick fix for the birds' aggressive behaviour.

Anyone who is worried about territorial birds should check for local hotspots and avoid the area, officials say.

The Magpie Alert website suggests wearing sunglasses and facing down the birds as they usually attack when people look away.

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