Excerpt from the book Animals Evolution Avoided. This book describes 40 animals that ought to exist but don’t, because I made them up.
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.
The fruits of the chenet grow in bunches on trees, which grow up to 30m high. The Falcon flies past the tree at high speed and snatches one or two of the ovoid-shaped fruit in its talons before landing on a branch. It cuts open the rigid skin of the chenet and peels it off, revealing the tart, tangy, or sweet pulp of the fruit covering a large seed. The pulp is usually cream or orange coloured. The falcon pushes the seed on to the ground and eats the pulp, which is also a great source of liquid for the bird.
The other favourite fruit of this falcon is known as five-finger on St Lucia. Alternative names include Starfruit and Carambola. The falcon hovers near the yellow Carambola and picks the fruit of the tree with its beak. It flies to the ground and eats the whole fruit, which has a tart taste and is a good source of vitamin C.
Due the falcon’s diminutive stature, the bird can’t tackle either pineapples, soursops, or breadfruit on trees, although it will eat these fruit if they are lying around on the ground.