Cyclist Dies After Crashing Into a Fence While Trying to Avoid a Swooping Bird's Attack


Magpie season in Australia has taken a fatal turn.

A man has died after a magpie, which is a species native to the country and different to those found in North America, forced him to ride off the path in the park where he was cycling, police announced Monday.

The accident took place on Sunday around 8:15 a.m. local time in Woonona, New South Wales, which is about an hour south of Sydney.

Witnesses reported the magpie swooping at the 76-year-old man while he was riding a pushbike along an off-road path on a local park, police said. In an attempt to avoid the bird’s attack, the man dramatically swerved from the path, the man hit a fence post and fell to the ground.

Police said that the man sustained “serious head injuries” in the fall. The man, who has not been named, was treated on-scene and was then airlifted to St. George Hospital in critical condition, and though doctors tried to save his life, the man died Sunday evening.

Police are currently investigating the incident, the New South Wales police department said.

Magpies’ breeding season runs from late August to mid-October, according to The outlet recently reported that because eggs are laid in September, this month male magpies are even more aggressive.

The black and white birds are harmless for the remainder of the year, National Parks and Wildlife Service Area Manager Roger Mills said in 2017.

“While it can be very frightening, these magpies are usually just giving us a warning and generally only defend within 100 meters of their nest site,” Mills said, adding that it’s best to avoid nesting areas during breeding season.

“For the rest of the year, outside of the breeding season, magpies are friendly and welcome neighbors,” he said. “They help control pests’ in our gardens and their familiar, iconic call is part of the Australian bush.”

The cyclist’s tragic death this weekend is a rarity, but injuries from the birds are less uncommon.

CNN reported more than 1,500 swooping incidents in Australia this year alone, and 189 of those resulted in injuries. Last year, there were more than 3,000 reported swoopings, the outlet reported.

To minimize the chance of being swooped, the NPWS recommends avoiding magpie nesting areas, remaining calm, dismounting bicycles or horses, and to never harass the birds.

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