Australian cyclist dies after crash while trying to escape dive-bombing magpie

The 76-year-old suffered head injuries and later died in hospital

(Image credit: Getty Images)

An Australian cyclist has died after crashing while trying to escape an attacking magpie.

The 76-year-old rider fell while trying to get away from the swooping bird.

After leaving a path and hitting a park fence near Sydney, the cyclist suffered head injuries and was treated by paramedics, but died in hospital.

The fall happened on Sunday (September 15) at around 8.15am, when the man was riding on an off-road path alongside Nicholson Park in Woonona, when witnesses saw him avoiding a swooping magpie, according to police.

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A statement from the New South Wales Police Force said: “Police are investigating after a cyclist died at Woonona yesterday.

“About 8.15am (Sunday, September 15 2019), a 76-year-old man was riding a pushbike on an off-road path alongside Nicholson Park in Woonona, when witnesses report he rode off the path to avoid a swooping magpie.

“The men then collided with a fence post, causing him to be thrown to the ground, sustaining serious head injuries.

“He was treated on-scene before being airlifted to St George Hospital in a critical condition.”

Despite the efforts of the medical team, the man died on Sunday evening.

Officers from Wollongong Police District say they are investigating the incident and a report will be prepared for the coroner.

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Australian magpies are a different species to those in Europe and become aggressive during mating season, often attacking humans.

According to local media, there had been a number of other magpie attacks in the park before the man’s death.

The Magpie Alert website has been set up in response to the bird attacks, where members of the public can report incidents.

Safety tips from Magpie Alert include keeping aware of possible magpie nesting sites, travelling in groups as they often attack individuals, and dismounting your bike if swooped as the birds will often stop.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.