falcon
Pixabay
  • An Australian airport worker was attacked by a falcon nesting in Qantas' hangar at Sydney airport in Australia last week, according to The Guardian.
  • The falcon attacked the worker when he got too close to the falcon's food supply, causing "significant damage to his eyes, neck and face".
  • The Guardian obtained an internal warning issued by Qantas, which confirmed the attack and urged its workers to wear protective clothing and goggles until breeding season ends in November.
  • Peregrine falcons are the world's fastest animals and can swoop at speeds of up to 300km/h.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

An Australian airport worker was gouged in the eye by a falcon that lives in Qantas' hangar at Sydney airport, The Guardian reported.

Peregrine falcons, a protected species in Australia since 1971, were known to have roosted, lived, and hunted in the hangar for at least 20 years, according to The Guardian. On Tuesday last week, one of the falcons attacked an airport worker, causing "significant damage to his eyes, neck and face," The Guardian reported.

The Australian Transport Workers Union told The Guardian that the worker "may lose sight in one eye".

The Guardian obtained an internal warning issued by Qantas, which confirmed the attack and urged its workers to wear protective clothing and goggles until breeding season ends in November. The notice added that the falcon attacked the worker when he was "in the vicinity of the falcon's food source".

"If you are swooped or observe the falcon, please report the location and activity observed," the memo said.

According to the Australian Department of Environment and Energy, the birds are known to be "excitable and easily disturbed".

The secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Transport Workers Union Richard Olsen told The Guardian that the union was pushing for Qantas to provide a safer work environment for its staff.

"We are not calling for the birds to be removed, rather that Qantas have aircraft cleaned before the aircraft are moved to the particular hangar where these birds of prey roost and hunt," he said.

He added that Qantas had not warned the union about the falcons in the hangar and that not all staff were given safety equipment to prevent a future attack.

A Qantas spokesman told Insider that it was "probably not that well known" that the falcons have lived in the engineering hangars at Sydney airport for "at least the past 20 years."

"They actually help keep smaller birds, rats and mice out of the hangars," the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson added that aircraft hangars attract large birds "due to their height and plenty of space to roost." They added that this was the first incident they have had in regards to the falcon, and they were making sure employees who work in the vicinity of the birds are "reminded of [their] presence."

Peregrine falcons are the world's fastest animals and can swoop at speeds of up to 185 mph (300 kph). According to Birdlife Australia, they often live in major cities and nest on ledges and skyscrapers.

Receive a daily email with all our latest news: click here.

Also from Business Insider South Africa: