Sandgrouse—pointy-tailed relatives of pigeons—live in some of the most parched environments on Earth. To satisfy the thirst of newly hatched chicks, male sandgrouse bring water back to the nest by carrying it in their feathers.
The water is collected by “rocking.” The bird shifts its body side to side and repeatedly shakes the belly feathers in the water; fill-up can take as long as fifteen minutes. Thanks to coiled hairlike extensions on the feathers of the underparts, a sandgrouse can soak up and transport 25 milliliters of liquid. That’s close to two tablespoons.