FOUR-year-old Seth McInnes is blind in his left eye after a vicious magpie attack in a Toowoomba park.
His distraught father Chris McInnes yesterday told The Chronicle of the sustained swoop which has left his son requiring around the clock medical treatment.
Mr McInnes said Seth was riding a pushbike on a footpath near the playground equipment in the West Ck Reserve beside Lemway Ave about 4pm on Sunday.
They had spent the afternoon in the park with Mr McInnes' girlfriend and her son without any hint of magpie trouble.
"He was riding his bike back towards me and I saw it (a magpie) coming down really fast," Mr McInnes said.
He started running towards his son as the bird swooped and then hovered in Seth's face.
"His screams didn't shoo it away, it was only when I got over there it left."
"He had a little scratch over his eye.
"But when I looked in his eye it was full of blood."
Seth was rushed to Toowoomba Hospital, where Mr McInnes was told his son would probably lose all vision in his left eye.
"When they gave us the bad news I couldn't contain it, I broke down."
Seth was then taken to the Mater Children's Hospital in Brisbane for emergency surgery at 2am on Monday.
"He had to have four stitches in his eyeball.
"It hit him right in the centre of his eye."
Seth's suffering has been exacerbated by the need for eye drops every two hours to stop his eye from becoming infected.
He has to be woken throughout the night for them to be administered.
"We have to hold him on the bed because they sting so much."
Seth has been having tests every day but can't see from his injured eye.
"He won't be able to see out of that eye," his father said.
"They are just trying to save his eye at the moment."
Mr McInnes said Seth would have to wear an eye patch for six months and he could need to keep applying the eye drops for the same amount of time.
He and Seth's mother Melissa Partridge have been by his side since the incident, alternating long shifts in the hospital ward.
"I knew it was magpie season.
"I didn't know it could be that serious."
Mr McInnes yesterday approached Toowoomba Regional Council about erecting warning signs in areas where the protected species were a problem.
"People need to know where they are attacking."
A council spokesman said council would engage a licensed operator to relocate problem magpies - but that would be subject to approval from the Department of Environmental Resource Management.
"Council monitors known nesting areas. However the nature of the animal means that not all locations can be identified ahead of a territorial display," the spokesman said.
"In those areas where magpies are known to nest, signs are erected."
On Tuesday, The Chronicle reported on an incident where a man and a woman were seen in the park beside Lemway Ave shaking chicks out of a magpie nest before putting them in a backpack.
The incident occurred about 5.20pm on Sunday.
Avoid the swoopers
- Wear a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses or shelter under an umbrella to protect your face from swooping magpies.
- If a magpie swoops while you are cycling, it will probably stop swooping if you get off your bike and walk.
- Avoid magpie defence zones by taking alternative routes during the August/ September breeding season.
- If you must enter a defence zone, magpies will be less likely to swoop if they are watched constantly, or if people walk in a close group.
- Use signs to warn others of the location of nests and defence zones, particularly in areas used by children and the elderly.
- Waving sticks or umbrellas in the air or attaching a brightly coloured flag on a long pole to your bicycle can stop magpies from swooping.