Cooperative Hunting Harris' Hawks (Parabuteo unicinctus)

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Science  25 Mar 1988:
Vol. 239, Issue 4847, pp. 1525-1527
DOI: 10.1126/science.239.4847.1525


Coordinated hunting by several individuals directed toward the capture and sharing of one Large prey animal has been documented convincingly only for a few mammalian carnivores. In New Mexico, Harris' hawks formed hunting parties of two to six individuals in the nonbreeding season. This behavior improved capture success and the average energy available per individual enabled hawks to dispatch prey larger than themselves. These patterns suggest that cooperation is important to understanding the evolution of complex social behavior in higher vertebrates and, specifically, that benefits derived from team hunting a key factor in the social living of Harris' hawks.