What Birds Can Swim? You Might Be Surprised!

Birds and water just seem like two things that naturally belong together—you see birds on lakes, streams, and other bodies of water all the time, right? But did you know that not all birds are good swimmers? Many people have no idea that there are a variety of types of birds that can swim as well.

All birds have an instinctive ability to swim for short distances, but most do not have the physical attributes to be strong swimmers. Here are some of the best birds that can swim underwater.  If you’re curious as to what types of birds can swim, then this article is perfect for you!

BIRDS THAT SWIM UNDERWATER

All in all, there are many different types of birds that can swim. These amazing birds provide us with insight into our natural world and inspire us with their grace and beauty. In this article, we will cover different types of birds that swim underwater, such as:

  • Ducks
  • Geese
  • Swans
  • Pelicans
  • Anhingas
  • Loons
  • Dippers
  • Grebes
  • Coots
  • Penguins

1. Ducks

Ducks are one of the most common birds that come to mind when we think of swimming. Ducks have webbed feet that are specially designed for swimming and they are able to submerge themselves underwater in search of food. They usually enjoy paddling around in both fresh and saltwater and they can even fly over short distances while submerged!

Ducks have been known to swim up to 10 miles in a single day, and some species like the Long-tailed Duck and the Barrow’s Goldeneye are capable of reaching depths of up to 60 feet. Swimming is a great way for ducks to stay safe from predators as well as to find food and mates. So, if you’re ever near a lake or pond, keep an eye out for these amazing birds.

2. Geese

You might be surprised to learn that not only can some birds fly, but they can also swim! Geese are perhaps one of the most surprising of these avian swimmers. Geese have long been associated with flying and migration, but they can also be seen enjoying a dip in the water.

When geese take to the water, they often use their webbed feet to propel them through the water. They are even able to dive underwater in search of food. The birds have strong wing muscles that enable them to flap their wings rapidly and generate enough force for them to stay afloat.

Geese typically swim for recreational purposes, although they may also swim to find food, escape predators, or migrate from one area to another. When swimming, geese form single-file lines that help reduce drag and make it easier to move through the water.

While geese don’t actually enjoy swimming more than flying, it is definitely an important part of their lives and something that helps them survive in the wild.

3. Swans

Swans are a large water bird and they can actually swim! They use their long, powerful neck and feet to propel themselves through the water. Swans are graceful swimmers, typically staying near the surface of the water. They even have webbed feet that help them move quickly and efficiently.

Swans typically spend most of their time on the water, but they can also take off and fly when necessary. Swans mate for life and often build their nests close to the shore or on islands. They feed on aquatic vegetation, small fish, crustaceans, and insects.

In addition to being able to swim, swans are also very good at flying. They can fly up to 50-70 miles per hour, though they usually cruise at around 20-30 miles per hour. So if you ever see a swan in flight, don’t be surprised – they can cover a lot of ground in a short amount of time!

4. Pelicans

Pelicans may look like they belong in the air, but they are also strong swimmers and can dive underwater to catch their prey. Their long bills have a special pouch at the bottom that enables them to scoop up a variety of fish and small crustaceans. They often swim in large flocks and use the buoyancy of the water to help with their fishing. Pelicans can be found in both freshwater and saltwater habitats, and they are known to be excellent swimmers with powerful wings to propel them through the water.

5. Anhingas

Have you ever seen a bird that can swim? It might surprise you to know that some birds can actually take to the water with ease. One such species is the Anhinga, sometimes referred to as the snakebird or water turkey due to its long, serpentine neck and distinctive bill.

Anhingas are aquatic birds native to tropical climates, primarily in North and South America. While they are most often found near freshwater marshes and ponds, they have been known to venture out into brackish and even saltwater areas. When swimming, they submerge most of their body under the water, leaving only their long neck, head, and bill visible.

Anhingas have several adaptations that help them survive in the water. They have webbed feet that enable them to propel themselves through the water, and their feathers are specially adapted to allow them to become almost completely waterproof while swimming. They also have a unique ability to hold their breath for up to 30 minutes while underwater.

Thanks to these special adaptations, Anhingas can swim gracefully and remain submerged for long periods of time. This makes them well-suited to their watery habitat, allowing them to catch fish, crabs, and other small aquatic creatures with ease.

It may come as a surprise to learn that some birds can swim, but the Anhinga is certainly a testament to the remarkable adaptability of our feathered friends!

6. Loons

Though it might surprise you, some species of birds can actually swim! One group of aquatic birds is the loon family, which includes five species of North American birds. Loons are large, aquatic birds that are closely related to grebes and auks. Their wings are short and pointed, and their feet have lobed toes that help them move through the water with ease.

Loons can dive deep underwater to catch fish, crustaceans, and aquatic insects for food. While some other birds may dabble in shallow waters, loons can dive as deep as 200 feet underwater and stay there for over a minute! This makes them incredibly well adapted to aquatic environments, and they are often seen swimming in lakes and rivers throughout North America.

Though they are strong swimmers, loons cannot take off from the water like some other waterfowl. To get airborne, loons need a long flat stretch of water or snow in order to gain enough speed to get off the ground. Once they are in the air though, they soar with grace and agility.

The five species of loons include the common loon, red-throated loon, Pacific loon, arctic loon, and yellow-billed loon. All five species have different plumage and behaviors that allow them to thrive in their respective habitats. For instance, the common loon’s bold black and white feathers provide camouflage in dark waters. The red-throated loon has a reddish-brown head and neck, making it well-suited for hunting in shallower waters.

Though loons may seem exotic, many people can see them close to home during the summer months! So if you live near a lake or river, keep an eye out for these majestic creatures!

7. Grebes

Grebes are a family of aquatic birds that can swim and dive underwater. They are adept swimmers due to their lobed feet and dense feathers, which help them stay afloat. Grebes use their feet to propel themselves through the water and can be seen diving for small fish, crustaceans, and insects. The largest species of grebe, the Great Grebe, can reach a wingspan of up to 3 feet in length. 

Grebes are found on every continent except Antarctica and range in color from grayish-brown to black with white underbellies. While they mainly inhabit freshwater lakes and marshes, they have also been spotted in saltwater estuaries and even in the open ocean. 

Grebes often mate for life, performing elaborate courtship rituals like the penguin dance or the weed display. Males will gather long strands of aquatic plants in their beaks to make an impressive nest for the female to lay her eggs. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs until they hatch. 

If you’re lucky, you might spot a grebe swimming along the shoreline of your favorite lake or pond. Watching these amazing birds maneuver through the water is a sight to behold!

8. Dippers

Did you know that some birds can swim? It’s true! While not all birds have the ability to take a dip in the water, there are a few species that have mastered the art of swimming. One type of bird that can swim is known as the dipper.

Dippers are part of the Cinclus genus, and they are a type of passerine bird. They are most commonly found near fast-flowing streams and rivers and have a unique adaptation that helps them make the most out of their aquatic lifestyle. Dippers have strong legs that enable them to hold on to rocks beneath the surface of the water. They also have a waterproof coat that allows them to dive into the water and stay submerged for longer periods of time.

When it comes to swimming, dippers are able to use their wings to propel themselves through the water. However, their main method of locomotion is walking along the riverbed. This is an incredibly efficient way for them to get around since they don’t need to expend a lot of energy swimming.

Although dippers may not be Olympic swimmers, they have adapted in a very unique way to make the most of their aquatic environment. Their ability to hold onto rocks with their feet and paddle with their wings has allowed them to become one of the most successful swimming birds in the world.

9. Coots

You may be surprised to learn that certain species of birds can actually take to the water and navigate their way through the currents. One such bird is the Coot, a member of the rail family that is often found in both freshwater and saltwater wetlands.

Coots are unique among waterfowl because they have lobed feet that act as paddles for swimming, allowing them to move through the water with greater agility than most other waterfowl. They also have feathers on their toes and feet, which help them stay warm when they are swimming in colder temperatures.

Coots primarily feed on aquatic plants and insects, but will occasionally eat fish and mollusks as well. They are often seen swimming close to the surface or along the edges of a body of water, where they can easily spot prey or search for plant material.

When it comes to breeding, Coots build nests near the shoreline and usually lay one to three eggs at a time. The chicks are able to swim shortly after hatching and are adept at finding food in the water.

10. Penguins

Penguins are perhaps the most well-known swimmers among birds. They have streamlined bodies and flipper-like wings that allow them to propel through the water with great speed and agility. Penguins typically feed on small fish, krill, and other aquatic creatures they catch while swimming in the sea.

However, not all penguins are good swimmers. Some species of penguins have much smaller flippers or have adapted to living on land and thus have less experience in the water. But even these land-dwelling species can swim when they need to, usually just to reach food that is out of reach from land. 

In addition to the classic species of penguin, there are other birds that can also swim. Auklets, puffins, grebes, and even cormorants can all be found swimming in the ocean as they hunt for their meals. All these birds have adapted for life at sea by developing features such as webbed feet and water-resistant feathers that help them move through the water with ease. 

So if you ever find yourself wondering what birds can swim, the answer is quite a few! From penguins to auklets to grebes, a variety of bird species have adapted to life in the water and are expert swimmers.

Conclusion

In addition to the classic species of penguin, there are other birds that can also swim. Auklets, puffins, grebes, and even cormorants can all be found swimming in the ocean as they hunt for their meals. All these birds have adapted for life at sea by developing features such as webbed feet and water-resistant feathers that help them move through the water with ease. 

So if you ever find yourself wondering what birds can swim, the answer is quite a few! From penguins to auklets to grebes, a variety of bird species have adapted to life in the water and are expert swimmers.

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