A 76-year-old man was riding his bike in Nicholson Park in Wollongong, south of Sydney, Sunday, died after being startled by a swooping magpie, a native Australian bird that gets aggressive in the spring around breeding season.
He crashed and suffered serious head injuries and later died at Sydney's St. George Hospital. Magpies can cause quite a bit of damage with their sharp beaks and sudden attacks. So far this year, in Australia there have been 1,570 swoopings nationwide, resulting in 189 injuries. The highest number of reported attacks this year are along Australia's east coast, in Queensland, New South Wales, and Victoria. Injuries tend to occur when cyclists fall off their bikes during an attack. To protect against attacks, people in the country are walking around carrying large sticks. Bike riders are wearing helmets with a dozen zip ties positioned so they stick up into the air.
Magpies are a protected native species in Australia and it's illegal to kill them. Birds in the family Corvidae, they are considered one of the most intelligent animal species in the world. The adult Australian magpie is a fairly robust bird ranging from 37 to 43 cm in length, with distinctive black and white plumage.. The Australian magpie is the mascot of several Australian sporting teams, most notably the Collingwood Magpies, the Western Suburbs Magpies and Port Adelaide Magpies.