By Jessie Yeung, CNN
(Michael Dodge/AsiaPac/Getty Images)
(CNN) — A cyclist was killed in Australia on Sunday when he crashed his bike trying to get away from an aggressive bird.
The 76-year-old man was riding his bike in Nicholson Park in Wollongong, south of Sydney, when he veered off the path to avoid a swooping magpie, according to Wollongong police.
He crashed into a fence post, was thrown to the ground and suffered serious head injuries. The man was airlifted to Sydney’s St. George Hospital and died that evening, police said.
Magpie swooping season occurs each year across the country in September and October, when the bird breeds during Australia’s springtime. This year, the season started early after a warm winter, according to CNN affiliate Seven News.
The territorial birds begin breeding in August and often swoop to protect their young from perceived threats.
To ward off the birds, pedestrians have taken to carrying large sticks, and bike riders wear helmets with a dozen zip ties positioned so they stick up into the air.
The magpies, just over a foot in length, can cause quite a bit of damage with their sharp beak. Last year, a toddler in Perth narrowly avoided being blinded by a magpie after it swooped down and attacked his face as he sat in a stroller.
So far this year, there have been 1,570 swoopings nationwide, resulting in 189 injuries, according to the community-run Magpie Alert website. Last season, there were more than 3,000 reported swoopings.
The greatest concentration of attacks so far this year is along Australia’s east coast, in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Magpies are a protected native species in Australia and it’s illegal to kill them or take their eggs or chicks. Local councils will act if one is reported to be a real menace; otherwise residents …read more
Source:: The Mercury News – Nation, World