Cyclist dies after trying to avoid swooping magpie

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An elderly New South Wales man has died after trying to avoid a swooping magpie.

The 76-year-old was riding along an off-road path in the Wollongong suburb of Woonona at around 8:15am on Sunday morning when a magpie swooped towards him. Witnesses report that the man rode off the path to avoid the bird, but in doing so collided with a fence post. He was thrown to the ground where he sustained serious head injuries.

The man was treated at the scene before being airlifted to Sydney’s St. George Hospital in a critical condition. He died on Sunday evening.

The Australian magpie (Gymnorhina tibicen) is native to Australia and is a frequent sight in urban areas. During breeding season — from late August to mid October — male magpies will sometimes swoop pedestrians and cyclists in order to warn off would-be predators.

Earlier this month, a local council in Sydney’s north-west controversially culled a particularly aggressive magpie following multiple complaints from nearby residents.

Riders seeking to avoid magpie attacks can visit the Magpie Alert website, which, based on reader feedback, shows where swooping is common, and where such attacks have caused injury.

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