Baby Girl Dies in Freak Accident After Magpie Attack

A baby girl has died in Australia after her mother tripped and fell while trying to avoid a swooping magpie, authorities said.

The infant was being carried by her mother who was walking through Glindemann Park in Brisbane on Sunday afternoon when the incident occurred, according to Australian broadcaster ABC News.

Paramedics said the baby sustained critical injuries after her mother fell while trying to avoid the bird.

The infant was transported to Queensland Children's Hospital, where she later died.

Brisbane Councillor Kim Marx called the baby's death a "tragic accident" and said additional signs warning about swooping magpies have been put up in the area.

"This is an extremely tragic accident and our hearts go out to the family involved," she said. "A number of signs warning about swooping birds were in place around the area where this incident occurred and our officers have now installed several more."

Magpie attacks crow
A magpie attacks a crow in flight during day 3 of the four day tour match between Cricket Australia XI and England at Tony Ireland Stadium on November 17, 2017 in Townsville, Australia. Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Australia's magpie swooping season typically occurs between July and December—and peaks in September, according to Sean Dooley of BirdLife Australia.

Male magpies swoop to protect chicks in the nest, Dooley told ABC News.

"While it's only the male magpies that swoop and only 10 percent of males do swoop ... the consequences, especially when people are caught unaware, can be truly terrifying and devastating," he said.

"Swooping season only occurs when the male magpies are defending the chicks in the nest–so for that brief period where the chicks are really vulnerable."

Queensland's Department of Environment and Science warns that for a few weeks of the year, the "safety of a magpie's young becomes its primary concern, and they may no longer be willing to share the area surrounding their nest and chicks."

The department's website says only a small proportion of magpies swoop on people, with a preference for certain types of "targets" like pedestrians and cyclists.

The website also outlines several ways that people can stay safe from magpies during the swooping season.

These include wearing a broad-brimmed hat and sunglasses or using an umbrella to shield your face from a magpie attack.

Other suggestions including waving sticks or umbrellas in the air or attaching a brightly colored flag on a long pole to a bicycle to prevent magpies from swooping.

The website also urges people to not fight back if a magpie swoops. "Throwing sticks and stones or yelling at a magpie are likely to make it more aggressive next time anyone enters the defence zone around their nest," it states.