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What types of bird of prey fly in groups?

Sent in by Vicky Neatrour, Virginia, USA

There are many species of birds of prey (or raptors) that could be seen in groups and for a variety of reasons. Scavenging birds such as vultures can be seen in large groups when they are circling above a carcass. They will then descend to feed in large numbers. The larger the prey, the more birds will come down to feed.

Some raptors, such as Harris's hawks, hunt in small groups. Up to six birds can all hunt together to catch larger prey and they are generally more successful using this method. This could involve one bird chasing a prey item out of cover for the others to catch.

However, most raptors that hunt for their prey tend to prefer hunting on their own. Birds such as buzzards can be seen in large numbers in recently-ploughed fields feeding on worms.

Raptors can be seen together where there are thermals. The rising warm air helps the bird gain height and this can be particularly useful for the larger raptors such as eagles, vultures and kites. Large numbers of these birds could be seen sharing a thermal and getting a ride up to a height from where they can watch out for prey or carrion.

Some raptors will roost communally including harriers, kites and lesser kestrels. In the case of lesser kestrels, thousands of birds have been recorded roosting together in the same town in South Africa.

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