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Abstract

Aplomado falcons (Falco femoralis) often hunt in pairs when chasing birds; 29% of 349 hunts observed in eastern Mexico involved mated pairs of falcons simultaneously chasing the same prey animal; and 66% of 100 hunts of birds were tandem pursuits. Although true cooperative hunting is uncommon in birds of prey, hunts by pairs of Aplomado falcons consistently showed signs of cooperative behavior such as use of a simple coordinative signal, and some division of labor between participating individuals. Pairs were more than twice as successful as solo falcons hunting birds (44% vs. 19%), however, there was no evidence that cooperative hunting increased the range of feasible prey sizes. The frequent use of cooperative foraging in this and similar species may relate to necessities of efficient nest defense, and food and nest procurement in savannas inhabited by a diversity of nest-site predators.