Cyclist dies after swerving to avoid swooping magpie in Australia

16 September 2019, 09:03 | Updated: 16 September 2019, 11:31

A cyclist has died after swerving out of the path of a swooping magpie in Australia, police have said.

The 76-year-old man veered off a path to avoid the bird while riding his bike in Nicholson Park in Wollongong, south of Sydney, on Sunday morning.

He suffered severe head injuries after his bike crashed into a fence post, Wollongong Police said.

Despite paramedics' efforts to save him, he later died in hospital.

Officers are investigating the incident and a report will be prepared for a coroner.

Magpies are ubiquitous in urban areas all over Australia and have become accustomed to people.

However, a small number of male magpies become highly aggressive during breeding season from late August to mid-October due to a huge increase in testosterone.

While it is common for magpies to swoop and sometimes cause injuries to people, fatal incidents are rare.

There have been 1,570 magpie swoops nationwide in Australia so far this year, resulting in 189 injuries, according to the community-run Magpie Alert website.

The number is expected to rise as there were more than 3,000 reported swoops last season.

Magpie Alert says magpies will most likely stop swooping if cyclists get off their bikes and walk. It also advises people to stay calm and not panic during an attack, because the magpie is more likely to become aggressive.