Which birds ‘fly’ underwater?

Do you know which birds ‘fly’ underwater? In contrast to the powerful running birds we have already seen, there is one group of flightless birds that at best can only waddle on land. These are the penguins, but what they lack in walking ability they certainly make up for in skill at swimming.

Their flipper-like wings are useless for flying but are ideal for propelling the streamlined penguin through the water at speed. Penguins waddle on land because their feet are set so far back on the body.

This is just the right position for a rudder, however, and this is how the penguin steers underwater. Penguins are so agile in the sea they can be described as ‘flying’ underwater.

Which birds ‘fly’ underwater

A Ringed Penguin (top) and a Gentoo Penguin (below) chasing fishes. Penguins use their wings as paddles and their feet as a rudder to maneuver themselves expertly after their prey.

Which birds ‘fly’ underwater

(above) The king Penguin incubates the single egg on its feet, under an insulting flap of skin.
(Left) Adelie Penguins congregate in their noisy thousands at nesting grounds called rookeries. The nest is a pile of pebbles on which the eggs are laid.

How do penguins cope with the cold?

Some penguins breed during the Antarctic winter and often have to stand around in freezing blizzards of driving snow for hours on end. They withstand such conditions by having a very dense plumage all over the body (unlike the plumage of other birds).

Which birds ‘fly’ underwater

(right) The Emperor Penguin is the largest penguin at 4 feet and is shown here next to an Adelie Penguin, as a comparison of their sizes. Both have chicks in attendance.
(left) An Emperor Penguin parent fusion over its chick.

Underneath this thick coat of closely packed feathers, there is an insulating layer of blubber. This helps maintain the body warmth and stores food and water as well. If the temperature drops too low, penguins resort to huddling together in an attempt to conserve body heat.

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