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How Tall Are Penguins? (Comparisons With Other Birds)

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Depending on the species, penguins can come in many sizes. Some of these arctic birds can be as tall as a human child, while others are shorter than the average chicken.

Two big adult penguins standing on rock and relaxing on a sunny day.

So, how tall are penguins? What is the largest penguin species overall? And are penguins the tallest birds on earth? Moving forward, we’ll answer all of these questions and more.


How Tall Are Penguins?

The height of a penguin varies depending on the species. There are up to nineteen different species of penguins.

Here are the heights of a few common penguin species:

  • The little blue penguin is the smallest in the world. Once mature, they’re roughly one foot tall.
  • The king penguin is the second-tallest species at three feet tall.
  • The emperor penguin is the largest species of penguin. An adult male can reach up to four feet tall.

So, if you’re wondering, “How tall are penguins?” That answer can range from one to four feet tall.

What Is the Tallest Penguin Species in History?

The title of the tallest living penguin goes to the emperor penguin. But what about the tallest penguin of all time?

Paleontologists have discovered an extinct species of penguin known as the “colossus penguin.” This penguin lived in Antarctica around 40 million years ago. Once mature, it could stand at six feet and eight inches tall.

Are Penguins the Biggest Birds?

An adult penguin walking on a beach.

The emperor penguin is a tall bird, but it is not the largest species of bird on earth. Here is how the emperor penguin compares to other massive birds around the world.

Penguins vs. Ostriches

Ostriches, a flightless bird native to Sub-Saharan Africa, are the largest birds on earth. A male ostrich can stand at over nine feet tall—that’s over twice as tall as an adult male emperor penguin. Ostriches are also taller than the extinct colossus penguin by more than two feet.

Penguins vs. Emus

Emus are large flightless birds native to Australia. The females are slightly larger than the males and are just over five feet tall, making the emu an entire foot taller than the four-foot-tall emperor penguin.

Penguins vs. Albatrosses

Albatrosses have a reputation for their impressive size. These birds make their home in the oceans and seas of the Southern Hemisphere. They’re the largest seabirds on earth, yet not the largest birds overall. At a little over four feet tall, albatrosses are similar in size to the emperor penguin.

Penguins vs. Rheas

Rheas are large flightless birds native to South America. An adult male rhea is just under five feet tall, making the average rhea about a whole foot taller than an emperor penguin.


A bunch of penguins walking on snowy ground on a sunny day.

The height of a fully-grown penguin may surprise many people. However, they are not the tallest birds overall. Ostriches, emus, and rheas are just a few other birds that would tower over an emperor penguin.

So, how tall are penguins? It depends on the species. The little blue penguin is the smallest penguin species at only one foot tall. The emperor penguin, the tallest penguin overall, can reach up to four feet.

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