An Australian man was killed after he attempted to avoid a swooping magpie while cycling last Sunday.
Local authorities say the 76-year-old cyclist was riding along Wollongong’s Nicholson Park after he veered off-path to avoid the native bird. Witnesses report that he then crashed and hit a fence post before getting thrown to the ground and sustaining major head trauma.
Medical officials responded and the man was transferred to St. George Hospital in Sydney via airlift but the man was declared dead later that evening. The man is the first reported casualty from this year’s Magpie swooping season in the country.
Magpies are native in Australia and get very aggressive during the country’s springtime from September to October as its breeding season. This year’s Magpie breeding season started earlier than expected after a warm winter was experienced in the country as per Seven News.
According to Australia’s Science Channel, Magpies tend to attack bike riders and ignore pedestrians. The Australian National University’s Professor Robert Magrath previously told the network that this behavior is a defense mechanism for the birds as they see cyclists as a threat to their nests.
“A bike is the size of a large threatening mammal—well, it is a large threatening mammal—and moving quite quickly, and something moving quickly might often be a predator,” the expert explains.
This explains while tourists tend to see locals carrying large sticks while walking or bike riders fastening their helmets with zip ties to keep it positioned. This year’s swooping incidents have been recorded at 1,570 leading to 189 injuries according to CNN. Numbers are expected to increase by up to 3,000 swoopings as the breeding season continues.