Tags: magpie | cyclist | death | nature | australia | bird

Cyclist Dies Dodging 'Swooping Magpie' Attack

A Magpie
A Magpie (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 17 September 2019 01:36 PM

A 76-year-old cyclist died after he swerved off the road to avoid being attacked by a swooping magpie in Australia.

The cyclist was riding alongside Nicholson Park at Woonona when he swerved to avoid the native Australian bird, the Wollongong Police said.

He hit a fence post and was thrown to the ground, sustaining serious head injuries. The man, whose name was not revealed, was airlifted to a nearby hospital but later died from his injuries.

It is not uncommon for cyclists, runners, and even walkers to be attacked by these territorial birds, which measure just over a foot in length and are known to fervently protect their young during breeding season in Australia's spring months of September and October, reported 7 News.

The birds are not intentionally trying to be aggressive or malicious, it's just that they may see humans as a risk, said Professor Gisela Kaplan, who has dedicated the last two decades studying the bird.

"A stranger means an intrusion," she explained. Magpies will not attack people that they recognize or have "come to know and trust," but if a stranger crosses into their territory the bird has to assess whether that poses a risk to its young. If so, the bird will do what it is best known for — swoop.

There are dozens of accounts posted to the community website Magpie Alert, which gathers data on reported swooping incidents across Australia and also allows users to share their tips and stories.

One user reported being "swooped twice by magpie and pecked by beak on back of neck."

Another user recounted being "swooped 6 times in total and copped a reasonable cut to the back of the head," which required medical treatment.

There have been roughly 1,700 attacks in 2019, which have resulted in more than 200 injuries, according to USA Today. In most instances, the outcome is not fatal. However, authorities were forced to shoot a "particularly aggressive magpie" in Sydney's north after receiving dozens of complaints, The Guardian reported.

The council explained that, while it did not usually take action to remove or destroy magpies, after considering the number of complaints and confirmed injuries reported, it had no other choice but to euthanize the bird to "prevent further serious injuries."

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A 76-year-old cyclist died after he swerved off the road to avoid being attacked by a swooping magpie in Australia. The cyclist was riding alongside Nicholson Park at Woonona when he swerved to avoid the native Australian bird, the Wollongong Police said.
magpie, cyclist, death, nature, australia, bird
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2019-36-17
Tuesday, 17 September 2019 01:36 PM
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