Thanks to Kaycie Anderson, a student in my Monsters Unleashed class, who shared this photo she took in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. This came up when we were discussing Erckmann-Chatrian's story "The Waters of Death," concerning an arachnid that dines out of its weight class. The spider pictured here--the golden-silk orb-weaver, Nephila clavipes--isn't the kind meant in the story, but it does occasionally take vertebrates as prey. Here is its close cousin from Australia taking a snake:
. . . and a bird:
Erckmann and Chatrian call their critter a crab-spider (or spider-crab in some translations), but they aren't talking about the harmless family of spiders currently known by that name (see D'Arcy's gorgeous close-ups of a crab spider here). They surely meant massive spiders like the Goliath bird-eater:
For any arachnid, capturing a bird is a rare event. . . but it does happen.