The Fruit Falcon of St Lucia is unique in the Falco genus in being the only one that hunts for fruit, although the bird’s hunting methods resemble those of the other members of the genus. The falcon stands about a foot high, with a wingspan of approximately 18 inches.
The fruit of the ackee grows on trees up to 10m high. These fruit are pear-shaped and are only ready to eat when they are yellow-orange. The falcon hovers over the fruit and delicately picks it off the tree with both talons. If the fruit is ripe and ready to eat it will be split open and all the bird has to do is insert its sharp beak into the fruit and eat the two or three fleshy white or cream-coloured arils inside. The bird knows only to eat these pieces as the rest of the fruit is poisonous.
This is an extract from the book Animals Evolution Avoided