Is A Penguin A Bird?

Is a penguin a bird? Yes. Penguins are flightless birds, so even though they can’t fly, Penguins are still classified as birds.

What is a Penguin?

Even though penguins can’t fly, they do have excellent swimming abilities. They live together in groups and usually mate for life.

The exception to monogamous penguins is the Emperor Penguin, who will mate with one partner for at least one season.


The scientific name for Penguins is Spheniscidae. There are seventeen different species of Penguins. The different species include:

  1. Adelie Penguin
  2. African Penguin
  3. Blue Penguin (also called the Little Penguin)
  4. Chinstrap Penguin
  5. Erect-Crested Penguin
  6. Emperor Penguin
  7. Fiordland Penguin
  8. Gentoo Penguin
  9. Galapagos Penguin
  10. Humboldt Penguin
  11. King Penguin
  12. Macaroni Penguin
  13. Magellanic Penguin
  14. Rockhopper Penguin (sometimes grouped by region, Northern or Southern)
  15. Royal Penguin
  16. Snares Penguin
  17. Yellow-Eyed Penguin

These species of penguins are divided into four different groups of penguins, including Banded Penguins, Brush-Tailed Penguins, Crested Penguins, and Large or Giant Penguins. 

See Also: Weird Birds: 13 of the Weirdest Birds Ever


The majority of penguins live in icy cold aquatic regions; however, there are some species that like more tropical climates, like the Galapagos Penguin.

The Adelie Penguins are the southernmost species of penguins, they live in Antarctica. 

More often than not, penguins live on islands away from other animals, specifically land-living predators. They flock together near waters that are nutrient-dense. 


The specific diet can vary from species to species of penguins. In general, their diets are mostly made up of fish.

In addition to fish, penguins may eat a variety of squid, krill, octopus, cephalopods, and crustaceans. 

Cephalopods include octopus, squid, cuttlefish, and nautilus.

Crustaceans include krill, prawns, shrimps, crabs, lobsters, and barnacles.

See Also: Discovering the Amazing Variety of Birds in the Pacific Northwest

Is a Penguin a Bird?

People often wonder if penguins are birds because they do not have the ability to fly and they do not have the typical physique of other birds.

Penguins are in fact birds, and they are classified in zoological terms as Aves. 

Over hundreds of years, penguin’s wings have evolved into flippers. Their flippers help them navigate through water.

Penguins, like other birds, are warm-blooded, lay eggs, and have feathers. 

Like other birds, flightless and those that do fly, penguins have feathers. Their feathers are not like the feathers of saying a hawk or robbin.

They have layers of stiff, short feathers that protect them by insulating them. 

What makes a Penguin a bird?

Birds have five major characteristics. Of the five characteristics, how many do you think the penguin has? If you guessed all five, you’re correct!


Birds do not have teeth, they have beaks or bills.

Penguins have sharp beaks that have spines in their mouths that face backward.

A penguin’s beak helps it to catch and eat fish. 


All birds lay eggs, including penguins.

Some birds are able to lay many eggs, but penguins typically only lay one or two per season.

The Galapagos Penguins are able to lay up to three eggs per breeding season. 


No other species of animal have feathers.

Feathers are one characteristic that only birds have.

As previously mentioned, penguins have short feathers that are arranged in layers to help insulate them and keep them warm. 


All birds have a skeleton.

Birds that are able to fly have lightweight, hollow bones.

Flightless birds, on the other hand, have heavy bones.

Penguins have thicker bones that are filled with marrow, which also helps to keep them warm. 


All birds have wings, but this characteristic is not specific to just birds (for example, insects and bats have wings, too).

While you may not think of penguins as having wings, they do in fact have wings.

Their wings have evolved into flippers. 

Five Fun Facts About Penguins

  1. Penguins have knees. 
  2. The largest species of penguin is the Emperor Penguin. 
  3. Penguins have been documented having homosexual sex. 
  4. Penguins filter salt out of their bodies through special glands just above their eyes.
  5. Sea Lions, Seales, and Orcas are the penguin’s biggest predators. 

See Also: Colorful bird: 10 Most Beautiful And Colorful Birds In The World

Penguin FAQs:

Is a penguin a bird or a mammal?

A penguin is a bird. It is not a mammal because it lays eggs and has feathers. Mammals have hair or fur and give birth to live young. 

Why is a penguin classified as a bird?

A penguin is classified as a bird because it has the five major characteristics of birds: beak, eggs, feathers, skeleton, and wings.

Is a penguin a bird yes or no?

Yes! A penguin is a bird. It’s flightless but still a bird.

What species is a penguin?

There are 18-21 species of penguins that are grouped into four main groups. Most of them live in Antarctica. The scientific name for the penguin is Spheniscidae.

Julian Goldie - Owner of

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.