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Abstract

White-winged choughs live in groups which cooperate in all aspects of rearing young, affording an opportunity to examine the influence of cooperation on foraging behavior. The amount of food choughs forage for themselves and feed to young increases with age, supporting the idea that individuals which dispersed to breed would have difficulty in rearing young. When feeding nestlings, individuals in the two larger groups returned to the nest less often and with larger loads than the individuals in the smallest group. Choughs in the smallest group also consumed less food at the beginning of each trip from the nest than those in the larger groups. We suggest that these measures indicate the greater efficiency allowed to individuals in larger groups when foraging from the nest. In all groups, individuals returning to the nest simultaneously with other group members carried smaller loads than those returning alone. We propose that returning in groups enables all nestlings of asynchronously hatched broods to obtain sufficient food.