9 Birds That Look Like Penguins [These Doppelgangers Will Make You Do a Double-take]

birds look like penguins

Penguins are beloved tuxedo-clad birds with captivating behavior and cute appearance. But did you know that some birds look surprisingly identical to penguins?

Below we’ll explore nine stunning birds that look like penguins. We’ll examine what makes them identical to penguins, their traits, and more interesting facts. Read on to learn more!

Puffins (Fratercula)


Puffins, also called sea parrots or bottlenose, are seabird species closely related to penguins and are often mistaken for one another due to their similar coloring and size. 

You can find them in the Northern Hemisphere near North America, Europe, and Asia coasts. They often nest in colonies on cliffs or ledges.

Puffins have bright orange-red beaks, black bodies, and white chests, making them a colorful addition to any shoreline. 

Their beaks can be used to carry food back to their nests, and they are excellent swimmers. They feed mainly on small fish and Mollusca, which they catch while swimming underwater.

Fun Facts

  • Puffins are believed to mate for life and spend most of their time at sea during breeding.
  • Puffins are highly social birds and enjoy playing at sea by chasing and surfacing in synchrony with each other. 

Common Murres (Uria aalge)

Common Murres

The Common Murres (or common guillemot) are members of the auk family. They’re one of the most widespread birds along the coasts of North America, Eurasia, and northern Africa. 

Common Murres have distinctive black and white plumage with long slender bodies. They also have a pointed bill with a black cap and white cheeks. 

These birds live in large colonies and feed mainly on small fish and crustaceans which they catch while swimming or diving.

Fun Facts

  • Common Murres live up to 15 years in captivity. However, their lifespan in the wild is usually much shorter due to predation and environmental conditions. 
  • Common Murres defend their territories from other seabirds, including other murres, through aggressive physical contact and loud vocalizations. 

Little Auks (Alle Alle)

Little Auks

Little auks are small, black and white seabirds that can be mistaken for baby penguins from a distance. 

They’re the smallest of all auk species, with a length of about 10 cm and a wingspan of 15 cm.

These birds have short, stubby wings and can be seen swimming in flocks off the coasts of Northern Europe, Russia, and Iceland.

They feed mainly on small crustaceans, such as krill and amphipods, which they dive for in the ocean. 

Like Penguins, Little Auks occasionally rest on icebergs or other floating objects. Like other sea birds, they’ll build nests on cliffs or islands.

Fun Facts

  • Little Auks are incredibly social creatures; they form huge colonies to breed, preen, and socialize. This gives them an added layer of protection from predators.
  • Since they live primarily in cold waters, they possess special adaptations that allow them to regulate their body temperature even in freezing conditions. 
  • These little birds are an important part of the Arctic ecosystem, providing food for other predators such as gulls and terns.

Blue-footed Boobies (Sula nebouxii)

Blue-footed Boobies

Blue-footed Boobies are seabird species found in the tropical and subtropical regions of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. 

They’re distinctive for their striking blue feet, hence the name Blue-footed Booby. These birds are large, weighing up to two kilograms and measuring up to 80 cm in length.

With their beautiful blue feet and impressive wingspan, they make a wonderful addition to any birdwatching adventure!

Blue-footed Boobies are strong swimmers with long pointed wings and webbed feet, perfect for catching fish. They feed on small fish, squid, and other small aquatic animals.

Fun Facts

  • Blue-footed Boobies engage in elaborate courtship dances where males perform moves and lift their blue feet off the ground to attract potential mates. 
  • Boobies have amazing eyesight, which allows them to spot their prey from a far distance.
  • Male and female Blue-footed Boobies take turns incubating their eggs during breeding.

Razorbills (Alca torda)


The Razorbill, lesser auk, or razor-billed auk is a member of the Alcidae family. It has black and white feathers with a large white patch on its forehead and back.

The Razorbill spends most of its time in the cold waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans but can also be found on rocky coasts and islands during the breeding season. 

Its diet consists mostly of fish, crustaceans, and other marine life. Unlike the penguin, it doesn’t have wings adapted for swimming but instead has long, pointed wings for flying.

Fun Facts

  • When predators threaten these birds, they perform distraction displays by spreading their wings, raising their heads, and running around with exaggerated movements.
  • They also perform group activities such as synchronizing dives underwater to confuse predators and swimming in tight formations to confuse their prey.
  • This species usually mates for life, forming strong pair bonds that last through multiple nesting seasons. 

Parakeet Auklet (Aethia Psittacula)

Parakeet Auklet

The Parakeet Auklet is a small seabird with a black head and throat, white underparts, and a unique yellow or orange bill. 

It’s found along the coasts of Alaska and Canada, in the Bering Sea, and the Pacific Ocean from Japan to Mexico.

They feed mainly on crustaceans and small fish they catch by diving into the ocean.

Fun Facts

  • The Parakeet Auklet is one of the few auklets that can fly. This gives them an advantage over other family members when foraging for food.
  • They’re known for their loud vocalizations, often making loud honking noises when feeding or gathering in flocks. 
  • During mating season, they engage in spectacular courtship displays, where the male struts around while displaying his colorful beak. 

Thick-billed Murres (Uria lomvia)

Thick-billed Murres

The Thick-billed Murre is a medium-sized seabird found in the cold waters of the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans.

The thick-billed murre has a black head, white throat, and dark grey back with a white belly. They have yellowish-orange bills and webbed feet that make them good swimmers. 

The thick-billed murres’ diet consists of small fish, crustaceans, squid, and other marine animals. They can dive deep underwater in search of food. 

Fun Facts

  • The Thick-billed Murre can fly in short bursts but usually prefers to stay close to the water’s surface and uses its feet for propulsion. 
  • Thick-Billed Murre produces only one egg every year. This makes it difficult for their population to increase rapidly due to their slow reproduction rate.
  • Sometimes you can spot them holding onto floating objects or hitch rides on boats when searching for food far from land. 

Horned Puffin (Fratercula corniculata)

Horned Puffin

The Horned Puffin is a seabird species related to the Atlantic Puffin and is commonly mistaken for a tiny penguin. 

They have distinctive white faces with yellowish beaks and bright yellow tufts on their forehead, giving them their “horns.” They have a black back and a white chest. 

The Horned Puffin can be found in coastal areas of the North Pacific and can be seen as far south as California.

They feed mainly on small fish, squid, and crustaceans which they catch by diving underwater and using their beaks to capture.

The iconic colorful beak of the Horned Puffin changes color throughout its life. 

When they first hatch, their beak is all dark brown, but as they mature, it shows an orange hue and eventually becomes deep red with a light orange tip.

Fun Facts

  • During the breeding season, the Horned Puffin pairs up with one mate and builds a nest inside their burrow.
  • During courtship rituals, males and females give each other food from their mouths.
  • Although these puffins can fly, they’re much better swimmers than flyers! They often use their wings as paddles to propel through the water at high speeds. 

Spectacled Guillemot (Cepphus carbo)

Spectacled Guillemot

The Spectacled Guillemot, also known as the Sooty Guillemot, is found on the North Atlantic and Northern Pacific coasts in large flocks near the shoreline.

The Spectacled Guillemot’s plumage resembles the more well-known all-black Emperor Penguin, famous for its melanism condition.

You can easily identify a Spectacled Guillemot by its unique black plumage, distinctive white spots on its face, and large, bright orange-red eyes.

This bird primarily feeds on small fish and crustaceans, which it dives for in shallow waters. 

The Spectacled Guillemot is also known to take advantage of human-provided food sources near coasts, such as mussels and other shellfish. 

Fun Facts

  • Their migratory patterns vary by region. Some may remain in one place year-round, while others travel thousands of miles between their summer and winter homes.
  • Male and female parents share equally in egg incubation and chick-rearing duties.

Spectacled Guillemot finds a good spot to nest and fiercely protects it from intruders. They aggressively fight off predators like eagles!

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