Excerpt from the book Animals Evolution Avoided. This book describes 40 animals that ought to exist but don’t, because I made them up.
In the Orkney Islands, off the North-East coast of Scotland, there are found many well-known types of Skua, such as the Great Skua and the Arctic Skua. The Great Skua is known as the Bonxie and is a murderous bird that mugs other birds for their food. There is another type of Skua, less well-known, called The Lesser Great Skua, which is now affectionately known as The Banxie. The Banxie is a pleasant bird that eats seeds and seasonal fruits, almost apologetically, and is the polar opposite of The Bonxie
The Banxie is a bird that uses other bird’s nests after they have vacated them. It will also nest in gutters, on rooves, and in depressions in the ground on cliff tops. The main reason for this behaviour is that The Banxie can’t build a nest to hold eggs. The Banxie is a very artistic bird, building triangular nests, square nests, and hexagonal nests. The only problem is these nests are almost always built vertically, rather than horizontally. The bird does occasionally build horizontal nests, but they tend to have no bottom in them so that any eggs laid would immediately land on the ground.
Nests built by Lesser Great Skuas use sticks from many different trees and the bird creates wonderfully colourful nests as a result. The bird uses its strong beak to weave sticks together and the resulting creations look like wreaths. The RSPB has now taken to selling these creations to tourists as keepsakes of their visit to the islands and, with the resulting money, buys both fruit and seeds to keep The Banxies well fed, and also large nesting boxes for the birds to use.
Some people threw sticks around the nests of Banxies, hoping that the birds would build them a nest, which they could sell. But these birds have an artistic temperament and refused to co-operate. The sticks remained where they were. Like all artists, these birds have to be inspired in order to make their art.