Elderly Australian cyclist dies after swooping magpie causes crash

An elderly cyclist out for a ride in Sydney has died after a magpie swooped, causing him to crash. 

The 76-year-old was riding along a path in Wollongong on Sunday when he swerved to avoid the bird and collided with a fence post. 

A witness told 7news he was thrown to the ground and suffered head injuries. 

He was airlifted to St Georges Hospital where he later died. 

The fatal attack came weeks after an aggressive magpie was shot by the Hills Shire Council in Sydney. 

The bird - dubbed the "Windsor Street Bomber" - was "swooping underneath helmets to attack people's faces," a council spokesperson told 7 News, adding that it was a "significant risk to public safety".

The council said it had made several unsuccessful attempts to relocate the bird before the decision to humanely euthanise it was made.

Spring in Australia is magpie swooping season as the birds target cyclists and pedestrians who venture close to their nests. 

New Zealand is not immune to magpie attacks with more than 100 reported between 2013-2018. 

Otago University Zoology Associate Professor Yolanda van Heezik told Newshub in 2018 their aerial assault is a defence mechanism when people enter the territory of mother magpies protecting their offspring.

"If they see someone coming to their nest, they will protect their family by swooping at them."

Van Heezik said the best thing to do was to try to keep calm and not aggravate them further. 


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