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Kiwi vs. Penguin: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on December 6, 2023
Kiwi is a small, flightless bird native to New Zealand, known for its long beak and round body. Penguin is a flightless seabird known for its upright posture, black and white plumage, and swimming ability.

Key Differences

A kiwi is a small, nocturnal bird, unique to New Zealand, characterized by its long beak and brown, fuzzy feathers. In contrast, a penguin is a larger, aquatic bird, found primarily in the Southern Hemisphere, easily recognizable by its distinctive black and white plumage and upright stance.
Kiwi birds are solitary and primarily active at night, using their long beaks to probe the soil for insects and worms. Penguins, however, are social birds, often found in large colonies, and are adept swimmers, using their flippers to navigate in water rather than for flight like the kiwi.
The kiwi lays one of the largest eggs in relation to its body size of any bird in the world. On the other hand, penguins lay smaller eggs and are known for their unique breeding behaviors, with some species' males incubating the eggs on their feet.
Kiwi birds are notable for their poor eyesight but have a highly developed sense of smell, unusual for a bird. Penguins rely more on their vision, both underwater and on land, and are known for their agility in the water, unlike the ground-dwelling kiwi.
Conservation status varies for both; some kiwi species are endangered due to habitat loss and predators introduced by humans. Penguins face different threats, like climate change and ocean pollution, impacting their food supply and breeding grounds.

Comparison Chart


Native to New Zealand
Found mainly in the Southern Hemisphere

Physical Appearance

Small, brown, fuzzy feathers, long beak
Larger, black and white plumage, upright posture


Nocturnal, ground-dwelling
Social, aquatic, adept swimmers

Egg Size

Large eggs in relation to body size
Smaller eggs, unique breeding behaviors

Sensory Adaptation

Poor eyesight, good sense of smell
Good eyesight, adapted for underwater vision

Kiwi and Penguin Definitions


A bird with a long beak and brown, fuzzy feathers.
We saw a kiwi foraging in the underbrush last night.


Primarily found in the Southern Hemisphere, especially in Antarctica.
Antarctica is home to several species of penguins.


A nocturnal, flightless bird native to New Zealand.
The kiwi is a symbol of New Zealand's unique wildlife.


Known for their black and white plumage and social nature.
We watched the penguins interact in their large colony.


The smallest member of the ratites group of birds.
The kiwi, despite its size, lays remarkably large eggs.


Adapted to life in the water with flippers instead of wings.
Penguins use their flippers to navigate skillfully in the ocean.


Known for its poor eyesight and good sense of smell.
Kiwi use their sense of smell to find food in the dark.


Exhibits unique breeding behaviors, like males incubating eggs.
Emperor penguins huddle together for warmth during breeding.


An iconic symbol of New Zealand.
Kiwi are featured on many New Zealand souvenirs.


Any of various stout, flightless aquatic birds of the family Spheniscidae, of the Southern Hemisphere, having flipperlike wings and webbed feet adapted for swimming and diving, short scalelike feathers, and white underparts with a dark back.


Any of several flightless birds of the genus Apteryx native to New Zealand, having vestigial wings and a long slender bill. Also called apteryx.


(Obsolete) The great auk.


(Informal) A New Zealander.


Any of several flightless sea birds, of order Sphenisciformes, found in the Southern Hemisphere, marked by their usual upright stance, walking on short legs, and (generally) their stark black and white plumage.


A kiwifruit.


An auk (sometimes especially a great auk), a bird of the Northern Hemisphere.


(slang) A nun (association through appearance, because of the often black-and-white habit).


(juggling) A type of catch where the palm of the hand is facing towards the leg with the arm stretched downward, resembling the flipper of a penguin.


A spiny bromeliad with egg-shaped fleshy fruit, Bromelia pinguin.


A member of the air force who does not fly aircraft.


Any bird of the order Impennes, or Ptilopteri. They are covered with short, thick feathers, almost scalelike on the wings, which are without true quills. They are unable to fly, but use their wings to aid in diving, in which they are very expert. See King penguin, under Jackass.


The egg-shaped fleshy fruit of a West Indian plant (Bromelia Pinguin) of the Pineapple family; also, the plant itself, which has rigid, pointed, and spiny-toothed leaves, and is used for hedges.


Short-legged flightless birds of cold southern especially Antarctic regions having webbed feet and wings modified as flippers


A flightless seabird with an upright stance and aquatic abilities.
Penguins are excellent swimmers, often diving for their food.


What do kiwi birds eat?

Insects, worms, and fallen fruit.

Where can kiwi birds be found?

Only in New Zealand.

Do penguins live in the North Pole?

No, they're mostly found in the Southern Hemisphere.

Can kiwi birds fly?

No, they are flightless.

Are penguins good swimmers?

Yes, they're excellent in the water.

Do penguins have natural predators?

Yes, like seals and orcas.

Do kiwi birds live in groups?

No, they are mostly solitary.

Can penguins fly?

No, they use their flippers for swimming.

What is the lifespan of a kiwi?

Up to 50 years in the wild.

Are kiwi birds endangered?

Some species are, due to habitat loss and predators.

What's unique about a kiwi's eggs?

They're very large relative to their body size.

What are the main threats to penguins?

Climate change and ocean pollution.

How do penguins stay warm in cold environments?

Through their thick feathers and fat layer.

How do kiwi birds find their food?

By using their keen sense of smell.

Are all penguins black and white?

Most are, but some have different patterns.

Is 'kiwi' also a term for New Zealanders?

Yes, it's a colloquial term for people from New Zealand.

Can kiwi birds be kept as pets?

No, they are protected and wild animals.

How do penguins care for their young?

Parents take turns feeding and protecting them.

Do penguins live in hot climates?

Some species do, like the Galápagos penguin.

What's the largest type of penguin?

The Emperor Penguin.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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