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21 Birds That Can Dive Underwater (Photos & Facts)

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Birds who dive into the water are some of the most common, especially considering the number of ducks alive. However, some diving birds may surprise you with their stunning colors, behaviors, or hunting patterns.

21 Birds That Can Dive Underwater (Photos & Facts) fb.

For example, one of the most famous birds is the Kingfisher, but some may not know that this richly-colored bird dives into the water for food. Many birds with similar hunting habits have no problem getting wet to get their food for the day.

Read on to learn more about surprising birds that can dive underwater.


1. Kingfisher

An adorable Kingfisher perched on a branch,

Kingfishers are famous for their ability to dive into the water. These birds are most notable for their long beaks and slim bodies, which enable them to dive into the water and snatch up prey. Kingfishers are tropical and spend their lives close to small water sources, although some are in estuaries.

Kingfishers are versatile and live in the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

2. Osprey

A beautiful Osprey perched on a wooden board.

Ospreys are famously carnivorous birds that dive into the water. These birds can live up to 30 years but only weigh about four pounds. Ospreys are experts at fishing, and they will spend most of their lives gathering fish by shooting into the water for every meal.

Ospreys eat fish for most of their meals, so it is no surprise that these birds nest near streams, rivers, and other water sources. Keep your eyes on the skies, however. Ospreys can dive into the water from up to 100 feet.

3. Bufflehead

A beautiful Bufflehead swimming in the water.

Buffleheads are in the duck family, meaning they have no problem diving under the water’s surface to pick out prey. These birds are easy to spot because of their vibrant colors. Buffleheads have a patch of white on the back of their heads but have a deep black, purple, and green mixture along their face and bodies.

4. Penguin

A beautiful Penguin is standing on the shore.

Penguins are one of the most famous birds that dive underwater for food. These birds feed on krill, squid, and cuttlefish. Penguins that reside in tropical locations will dive into warm waters to feed on the fish local to that area.

5. Cape Gannet

An adorable flying Cape Gannet.

Cape Gannets are small birds that dive into the water for their meals. This bird lives on islands off the coast of South Africa. These white birds have a head of yellow or gold, making them easily recognizable. This bird time dives elegantly but can be clumsy when they land.

6. American Dipper

An adorable American Dipper is standing on a rock in the water.

American Dippers are unique because they will walk under the water and dive under to grab fish. These birds jump from one river rock to another to search below the surface of river water for meals. The number of American Dippers alive has plummeted due to pollution in the rivers and streams they call home.

7. Tern

An adorable Tern perched on a wooden pole.

Terns will dive underwater to catch their prey, and although these birds are not typically aggressive, they may fight over food. This bird is a cousin of the famous Seagull, and the two have similarities in that they stick close to the sea.

8. Pelagic Cormorant

A beautiful Pelagic Cormorant is standing on a metal construction.

Pelagic Cormorants have long necks and slender frames that make them speedy under the water. These birds are native to the North American Pacific Coast and use their slim bill to capture fish. Pelagic Cormorants can stay underwater for two minutes.

9. Auk

An adorable Auk with spread wings is standing on a rock.

Auks are small birds that look similar to Penguins or Puffins. There are about 22 species in the Auk family, including one that has been extinct since 1844. These birds dive into the water to get their food, using their webbed feet to chase down prey and eat.

10. Puffin

Two adorable Puffins perched on a rock on a sunny day.

Puffins look like tiny Penguins but have short, orange bills that help them hold fish in their mouths. These birds have black and white feathers but have elegant designs on their heads. There are multiple types of Puffins, including Atlantic Puffins, Tufted Puffins, and Horned Puffins.

11. Anhinga

A tall Anhinga with spread wings is standing near a pond.

Anhingas have long, slim necks that make picking out prey easy. These birds will dive underwater and grab any fish they can see, but they are also capable of soaring high in the sky. This bird is also known as the Snakebird since it can keep its body underwater and expose only its head, making it look like a snake.

12. Peregrine Falcon

A fierce-looking Peregrine Falcon is standing on a rock.

The Peregrine Falcon is one of the most famous hunting birds that drop from a terrifyingly high place and sink into the water for food. These birds are fast and are out of the water with their prey in seconds.

13. European Herring Gull

An adorable European Herring Gull is standing on a concrete railing on a sunny day.

A European Herring Gull is classic and may be easily spotted by those familiar with birds. These birds have short, sharp beaks that are perfect for snapping at fish while they dive into the water for prey.

14. Booby

An adorable Booby is standing on a rock.

Boobies are seabirds that have a close relation to Gannets. These birds will dive from a great height to catch prey and have air sacs that make their impact with the water less severe. There are many kinds of Boobies with unique color patterns and behaviors.

15. Pacific Loon

A cute Pacific Loon is swimming in the water.

Pacific Loons live in the ocean and enjoy spending their time in lakes. These birds have an iconic set of feathers that contain lines that may distract any predators in the area. Pacific Loons have long, thin beaks that help the bird catch its prey.

16. Diving Petrel

A flying Diving Petrel.

Diving Petrels are like auks and have a similar appearance. Like Auks, these birds dive into the water to claim their prey. Diving Petrels are small, but they move fast and enjoy spending most of their time in the water.

17. Grebes

Two adorable Grebeses are swimming in the water.

Grebes are small water-swelling birds that are often mistaken for ducks. These birds enjoy diving under the surface for their meals and may enjoy time floating across the surface of their freshwater lakes, rivers, and streams.

18. Anatinae

An adorable Anatinae is standing near a road.

Anatinaes are remnants of Dabbling Ducks who feed on the water’s surface. These birds are relatives of ducks, geese, and swans. Anatinaes will dive under the surface with their slender bills to capture their meals.

19. Hooded Merganser

A beautiful Hooded Merganser is standing in shallow water.

Hooded Mergansers can have varying appearances but usually have a tuft of feathers on the top of their head. These birds can be brown, black, and white and have yellowish eyes. The pointed bill of these birds makes it easy for Hooded Mergansers to dive into the water for their food.

20. Albatross

A flying Albatross on a sunny day.

Albatrosses have large bills to snatch their prey. These birds are white and rely on a carnivorous diet. Albatrosses can live up to 50 years and weigh up to 22 pounds.

21. Guillemot

An adorable Guillemot perched on a rock.

Guillemots are seabirds with pointed bills that assist in their hunt for fish and other foods. These birds are expert divers and snatch food from the bottom of a water source.

This bird will go to the Arctic Circle to breed before coming back south for the winter. However, this bird will come as south as Maine or the British Isles, preferring colder climates. Guillemots will lay two eggs at a time and allow them to keep warm in their nest for six weeks when they are grown enough to fly.

Final Thoughts

Many birds dive underwater for food, to catch fish, or explore. The most notable of these birds is the Penguin. However, many birds dive underwater to get their next meal, many of which have stunning colors and vibrant songs.

Diving underwater is unusual for most birds, but many showcase their uniqueness with every meal.

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