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'Magpie Swooping Season' Claims a Life

Australian man dies after being startled off his bicycle
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 16, 2019 8:23 AM CDT
A magpie has been blamed for a bicyclist's death.   (Getty/Ken Griffiths)

(Newser) – Australia is in the midst of what's known as "magpie swooping season," per 7News, and it's no joke. Authorities in Wollongong, south of Sydney, say a 76-year-old bicyclist died after a bird dove at him and caused him to crash into a fence post, reports the Guardian. Magpies typically begin breeding in August, and by September they're swooping at bicyclists and joggers or anyone else they perceive to be a threat to their nests, explains CNN. This is so common that a national Magpie Alert website tracks incidents—it has logged more than 1,700 swoopings so far this year, with more than 200 injuries. Most of those hurt are bicyclists who fall.

The birds are protected in Australia, and it's illegal to kill them or take their eggs. Municipalities occasionally take action against particularly aggressive birds, as a local council in Sydney did this earlier this month when it shot a male bird blamed for 40 attacks on people over the last three years. That includes a man who suffered a non-fatal heart attack. "It just did not stop, even as I was losing consciousness on the ground," he tells Australia's ABC News. (Read more Australia stories.)

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