Excerpt from the book Animals Evolution Avoided. This book describes 40 animals that ought to exist but don’t, because I made them up.


A most remarkable bird lives in northern Sri Lanka. The Archer Warbler lives around Trincomalee where it is colloquially known as the spitting bird or insect shooting bird. The Archer Warbler drinks sea water, but doesn’t swallow it. The bird then flies to a tree and waits for insects to fly by. Once a target has been selected, the Archer Warbler fires a jet of water and brings down the insect. The bird flies down, grabs the insect, and then washes it in a puddle or freshwater lake before eating it.

The Archer Warbler will also fire water at wasp’s nests and eat any wasp incapacitated by the water. The bird can fire a jet of water for about five seconds and hits the target roughly two-thirds of the time. The bird only ever fires salt water at targets, because it has learnt that freshwater is precious and should not be wasted.

It’s believed the bird first discovered this unusual method by accident. A high-tide had inundated a freshwater pond. The warbler didn’t realise this and drank the water. When it tasted the salt, the bird spat it out and hit a mosquito, which fell on the ground. The warbler picked up the mosquito in its beak, but still tasted some salt. If flew to another pond and dipped its beak in the water before consuming the insect.

The Archer Warbler can fire water for a distance of about ten feet. Depending on the age of the bird, these warblers can normally fire 50 or 60 jets of water per day.