Most hawks are solitary hunters, fiercely antisocial, but one species displays the kind of behavior usually associated with only wolves, killer whales and humans, the sooty black, white-rumped Harris' Hawk (Parabuteo unicinctus) of the Southwest. Across the deserts of west Texas, southern New Mexico, and southern Arizona, the Harris' Hawk constantly keeps an eye out for food, mostly agile, hard-to-catch jackrabbits and desert cottontails. Harris' Hawks work in teams that usually number five or six birds, which take turns beating the bushes and perching quietly, watching for prey. If a rabbit holes up beneath vegetation, one or two hawks may walk in to flush it out. When the rabbit bolts for safety, the others then use a relay system to run it to exhaustion. Once the prey is killed, the pack shares the spoils. The younger birds often receive the lion's share, a rare occurrence in nature.
Photo by Larysa Johnston