Magpie attack: Australian cyclist dies while fleeing swooping bird

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An Australian man has died in a bicycle crash while trying to escape from a swooping magpie.

The 76-year-old cyclist suffered head injuries on Sunday when he veered off a path and crashed into a park fence south of Sydney, police said.

Despite paramedics’ efforts to save him, the man later died in hospital.

Swooping magpies are a common threat in Australia during spring and often cause injuries to cyclists and pedestrians, but fatal incidents are rare.

Police said they would prepare a report for a coroner after the attack in Wollongong, New South Wales.

Local media reported that several other magpie attacks had previously taken place in the park.

The Australian magpie is a different species to the European bird with which it shares its name. During mating season, the bird can become aggressive and attack humans crossing its territory.

A sign in a park reads: Attention: Please be aware of aggressive magpies
Image captionSpring is the most active time for magpie attacks

Earlier this month, a local Sydney council sparked controversy when rangers shot dead a “monster” magpie which had intimidated residents for years.

The “particularly aggressive” bird had attacked several people in the Hills Shire in the city’s north-west, sending some to hospital.

One resident had also suffered a heart attack following a run-in with the bird, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Officials at the time defended their decision to kill the large magpie. The species is protected by law but can be dealt with by local authorities at their discretion.

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