An Australian family is mourning the loss of a five-month-old girl who died after her mother tried to protect her from a swooping magpie.
Baby Mia was in her mother’s arms when a magpie swooped at them in Brisbane’s Glindemann Park on Sunday, causing her mother to trip and fall. Mia was rushed to hospital but later died from injuries sustained in the fall, according to the Queensland Ambulance Service.
“The parents and bystanders did a really fantastic job, they got us coming really quickly and allowed the little one to have the best possible chance,” Tom Holland, a paramedic who attended the scene, said in a press conference.
“Even as paramedics this is an incredibly rare and tragic event to get called to,” Holland said. “It was a very emotive scene, my thoughts are with the parents.”
Relatives have launched a fund raising campaign to raise money to help cover Mia’s funeral costs and to assist her parents, identified only by their first names Jacob and Simone.
“On this day, in Glendemann Park, Holland Park West an absolute tragic and sudden accident occurred, where beautiful Mia, at only five young months of age, grew her little angel wings and left this world for the final time,” the fund raising page reads. “No words can begin to describe the torture [parents] Jacob and Simone are going through.”
In a social media post on Tuesday Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner described the city as being “shocked to its absolute core” by the infant’s death. “Let’s come together as a community and let Jacob and Simone know Brisbane is here for them,” he added.
Magpies are known for aggressively defending their nests, particularly during breeding season which runs July-December in Brisbane.
That aggression has earned magpies a fearsome reputation in Australia, where the sharp-beaked black and white bird grows to around 40 centimeters (15 inches) long.
The community-run Magpie Alert website logged 1,231 magpie swoops in the state of Queensland in 2020, with thousands more reported across the rest of Australia.
More than one in ten people swooped by magpies suffer injuries, according to Magpie Alert.
In 2019 a 76-year-old Sydney man died of head injuries after crashing his bicycle while attempting to avoid a swooping magpie. The previous year, child in Perth was almost blinded when a magpie attacked his face as he sat in his pram.
Brisbane City Council says it is “working towards a natural balance as the guiding management principle,” when it comes to aggressive birds such as the native magpie.
Magpies are a protected species in Australia, where it is illegal to kill the bird or remove its chicks or eggs from the wild.