Types of Penguins

Most birds are found flying in the skies or perching on branches high up in the trees. However, penguins are a type of bird that swims instead of flies. Penguins raise families on land, but dive into water for food like krill, fish, squid and crustaceans. Many different types of penguins live all over the world, and each type has distinguishing features.

Emperor Penguin

One of the deepest divers, the emperor is also the largest, reaching 3.7 feet tall and weighing 60 to 90 pounds. This penguin only lays one egg, and instead of building a nest, the parents balance the egg on their feet. The male penguin incubates the egg, keeping it warm for around two months.

King Penguin

Another deep diver is the king penguin. This penguin does not build a nest and has the longest breeding cycle, lasting from 14 to 16 months.


Erect-crested penguins have yellow feathers on their heads that stand up straight when dry and droop down when wet. Pairs breed on rocky slopes after having a long courtship.


This type of penguin builds nests in the forest out of twigs and grass. Fiordlands live under rocks, in caves or around thick shrubs. They are larger penguins and have a yellow stripe above the eyes.


The Macaroni penguin wears orange feathers high on the head. Nests are built out of pebbles with mud or sand as bedding.


This penguin has white feathers on its cheeks and under its chin. The royal penguin builds nests in shallow holes using plants and stones. Parents take turns incubating eggs, rotating 12 hours shifts for 35 days.


This smaller penguin is known for its red eyes. The Rockhopper also has a thin yellow stripe and thin yellow feathers on its head. It builds small nests using pebbles.


Drooping feathers sit on top of a snare penguin's head. The snare lives in the forest where it builds nests that look like cups from wood and pebbles.

Fairy Penguin

The fairy penguin is the smallest, and is also called the little penguin, little blue, and the blue penguin. This penguin only weighs 2.2 pounds and is just 16 inches tall. The fairy is nocturnal and hunts for food at night.


Featuring yellow eyes, yellow feathers on the head and a reddish bill, the yellow-eyed penguin is one of the few types of penguins that raises two chicks.


This medium sized penguin has a white ring in each eye. The Adelie makes nests by denting the ground and then lining it with stones, which are in high demand in the antarctic climate.


Considered one of the most beautiful penguins, chinstrap penguins have white faces and bellies, a thick black line crossing the chin and a black bill.


The Gentoo is characterized by a white patch around the eyes that meets at the top of the head. Instead of migrating, the Gentoo penguin stays in its breeding colony all year round.


The only penguin that breeds in Africa, the african penguin nests in burrows or under rocks and loves anchovies.


This penguin breeds near the equator in caves, burrows, and crevices of old volcanoes. The Galapagos is recognized as a small penguin with a large bill and a skinny white line around the face.


The humboldt has a pink fleshy patch near the lower side of its beak. This penguin breeds in warmer climates.


The magellanic penguin prefers to digs burrows, but also builds nests under bushes. They are another type of penguin that breeds in warmer climates.


This small penguin has blue-grey feathers and a white underside. It lives in caves and rocks and lines its nests with plants.