Flocks: Range from temporary, less orderly aggregations to organized foraging associations involving multiple species. These groups can be simple and focus on localized nesting areas, or opportunistic feeding grounds, as well as more intricate social system. Flocks are flexible systems that are defined by several tradeoffs. Benefits include predation risk secondary to statistical improvement as well as additional alerting neighbors as well as increased foraging efficiency as birds are able to share information to utilize their specialties. Flocks can utilize the “Beater Effect” , where decoy predators will flush out prey for the rest of the flock, as well as the more classic rounding up of prey seen in sea birds. However, this system is not without drawbacks as there are increased demand for food supplies, higher rates of disease and increased levels of aggression to maintain a personal space and metabolic needs. In addition, due to their intrinsically selfish,self fulfilling nature, there are “scrounger” individuals who will benefit from the “producer” birds without contributing. These individuals are a net negative and offer no additional benefit to the flock, further increasing the demand of the flock.
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