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(CNN) - A cyclist died in Australia this Sunday after being caught by a magpie, a bird native to Australia that becomes aggressive in the spring around the breeding season.
The 76-year-old man was riding his bicycle at Nicholson Park in Wollongong, south of Sydney, when he deviated from the road to avoid a magpie, according to Wollongong police.
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Then he crashed into a fence post, was thrown to the ground and suffered serious head injuries. The man was taken by plane to St. George's Hospital in Sydney and died that night, police said.
The season in which magpies dive to surprise potential enemies occurs every year throughout the country in September and October, during the spring of Australia. This year, the season started early after a warm winter, according to Seven News, a CNN affiliate.
Territorial birds begin to breed in August and often plummet to protect their young from perceived threats.
Visitors from Australia may notice people walking with large sticks, or cyclists who wear helmets with a dozen flanges placed to rise in the air.
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Magpies measure just over 30 centimeters and can cause quite a bit of damage with their sharp spikes and sudden attacks: Last year, a boy in Perth narrowly avoided being blinded by a magpie after he pounced and attacked his face while sitting in a stroller
So far this year, there have been 1,570 attacks across the country, resulting in 189 injuries, according to the Magpie Alert community website. The number will probably increase: last season, more than 3,000 attacks were recorded.
The highest number of reported attacks so far this year is on the east coast of Australia, in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.
Magpies are a protected native species in Australia and it is illegal to kill them or take their eggs or chicks. Local councils will act if one of them is reported to be a real threat, otherwise residents are urged to stay away from trees where they are known to reproduce.
The Magpie Alert (magpie alert) warns that injuries tend to occur when cyclists fall off their bicycles during an attack, such as the Wollongong man. Of all the attacks reported on the site, almost 70% occurred while people were cycling, 22% occurred when people passed by.
To keep safe during the diving season, cyclists are advised to get off their bicycles during an attack and remain calm rather than agitated, which may seem aggressive behavior and further provoke birds.