The Harris's Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus), a social raptor species, often breeds and hunts cooperatively in groups typically consisting of a dominant breeding pair and one or more auxiliary group members. Why these birds form social groups is not completely understood, but one hypothesis is that the ability to hunt cooperatively may benefit groups with a higher hunting success rate or facilitate the capture of larger prey than an individual hawk could catch on its own. To test the hypothesis that group hunting affects patterns of prey delivery and the types of prey delivered to nests, we recorded videos of prey deliveries in May and June at nests of five breeding groups and five breeding pairs in Cameron County and Willacy County, Texas. In contrast to the diets of Harris's Hawks in New Mexico and Arizona that depend heavily on lagomorphs, we documented mostly avian prey items (39.1% of prey deliveries) and rodent prey items (39.1%), and only 0.7% lagomorphs (n = 284 prey items recorded). Significantly more prey items per day were delivered to nests with more nestlings. Importantly, and contrary to our hypothesis, pairs delivered more prey items per day on average than groups; this pattern was not significant, but this may be attributable in part to a small sample size of nests. These results suggest that the presence of auxiliaries may not necessarily provide direct benefits to offspring during the nest provisioning stage at late spring and summer nests in south Texas.

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