Humans who want to go far into the sea or high into the clouds have to take boats and airplanes to achieve their goals.
These talented animals don’t need anything but their wings, buoyancy, and instinct to keep themselves afloat.
Some of these inhabitants of Earth can even dive deep below the water in order to hide or find food.
Let’s talk about some majestic animals of the skies and seas!
25 Animals That Can Swim And Fly
Puffins have large, round eyes and an adorably plump body that looks so squishy to hug.
These birds have more than just good looks.
These little birds are able to swim as well as a penguin, but they can also fly.
While they may be much better at swimming than flying, they’re still capable of taking to the air.
Puffins will flap their wings 300 to 400 times per minute just to keep themselves clumsily aloft.
Puffins often have a difficult time landing and most simply opt for crash landing rather than having any grace or style to their descent.
2. Pink-Eared Ducks
These ducks do not actually have ears, but the pink tufts of feathers near their eyes on each side of their face give off that impression.
The zebra-striped ducks are beautifully odd-looking.
These birds spend the majority of their time in the water.
Their special bills filter the water for microscopic plants and bugs.
Pink-eared ducks breed for life and will build nests near other species of birds.
No, we aren’t talking about your eccentric, old coworker who keeps trying to tell you that the Earth is being controlled by space cats.
Coots are small, duck-shaped birds that make great swimmers and just as great flyers.
Coots love the water so much that they build their nests right in the middle of it.
These floating water nests help keep their eggs from being stolen by predators and scavengers.
As soon as the eggs hatch, the hatchlings are able to swim, making coots natural born swimmers.
To propel themselves through the water, coots use their heads by bobbing them back and forth.
Grebes are as beautiful as they are talented.
While you’d think that the grebes’ lobed instead of webbed feet would make them not as strong in the water, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Similar to coots, grebes make floating nests in the water, and their young only take a week to learn how to swim.
Before hatchlings learn how to swim, they will ride the backs of their parents.
Grebes prefer to fly at night to help them avoid predators.
They also need a long stretch of open space in order to take-off properly.
heir flying is vastly outshined by their ability to swim and dive deep underwater.
5. Comb Ducks
Comb ducks are large ducks with unmistakable faces.
The leaf-shaped comb on top of their bill is typically a small feature, but during breeding season, the comb grows in size.
This lets the female comb ducks know when a male is ready to breed.
Although they spend most of their day in the water, comb ducks keep their nests 20 to 30 feet above the ground in order to keep them and their hatchlings safe.
While it is faster for them to fly up into the trees, they can also use their strong claws to climb trees.
The average comb duck stands between 25 and 27 inches tall.
Cormorants are special birds who do well in both the water and the skies.
Cormorants can dive almost 150 feet underwater and can remain there looking for food for four minutes at a time.
They eat eels, fish, and snakes!
Fishermen all over the world use cormorants to help them fish.
Fishing cormorants have a cage at the base of their throats which allows them to eat small fish but doesn’t allow them to swallow big fish.
The fisherman will then take the stuck fish out of the cormorant’s throat.
While flying, a cormorant can reach speeds of 34 miles per hour in the sky!
Cormorants know how to make great use of their short wings.
7. Mandarin Duck
Mandarin ducks are thought to be the most beautiful breed of duck.
They originated in China and Japan.
The Mandarin duck isn’t one for large, open waters.
Instead, it prefers ponds in the woods in order to blend in with the trees and stay out of the sight of predators.
While these ducks are beautiful, they are not excellent fighters and truly live up to the phrase “sitting ducks”.
Although they enjoy perching from tree branches, the female mandarin duck would rather dig a hole in the ground near a tree stump or roots for her eggs.
They may also lay their eggs in the cavities of trees.
If ducks are hatched somewhere higher up, their thick, soft feathers are enough to protect them if they fall.
Swans are the picturesque symbol of elegance, regality, and nobility.
These creatures are so breathtaking that Queen Elizabeth II decided to claim all of the unmarked swans who swim in all of the unowned waters of England.
These royally beloved birds have impressive 10-foot wingspans, making them excellent at flying.
Swans are known for the seamless way they float across the water.
This is thanks to the buoyancy of their bodies, feathers, and their webbed feet.
Swans mate for life and are extremely protective of their mates.
Come too close to a swan’s nest and they’ll chase you off with their hissing and biting!
The oddest-shaped head you may ever see on a bird belongs to the hooded merganser.
You can’t mistake a hooded merganser, thanks to its tall head, black and white wings, and brown belly.
Hooded mergansers spend their days eating fish, insects, tadpoles, and mollusks.
These birds will put their nests anywhere between 10 and 80 feet off of the ground.
Hooded mergansers have excellent underwater vision.
Their webbed feet help them dive through the water like a bullet out of a gun.
They can keep up with many of their fishy prey while still being able to take to the skies.
10. American Dippers
The American dipper is the only songbird that can swim well.
These small, round birds are capable of diving 20 feet below the water’s surface.
While underwater, the American dipper will walk along the river floor, looking for fish eggs and insects.
They’re able to remain underwater for longer thanks to the extra oxygen in their blood, their waterproof feathers, and the nasal flap that keeps water from flooding their noses.
These impressive swimmers make their soccer ball-size nests up in the trees.
Females choose their mates by the song they sing. In the American dipper world, being tone deaf can lead to a lonely life.
Anhinga means “snakebird” in Tupi, which was a language once spoken throughout Brazil.
These creatures earned this nickname after the way the anhinga slithers through the water.
Their long, thin bodies also give them an extremely snake-like appearance.
When these birds are in the sky, their wide wingspan, long necks, and thin legs make them look like a Christian cross.
The anhinga’s wide wings are perfect for swiftly getting above the rainforest trees and all the predators that hide in them.
Their lack of oil glands causes their wings to hold water and make them sink.
Luckily, the anhinga has learned to make their feathers work for them and they are able to swipe prey out of the bottom of lakes and rivers.
12. King Eiders
King Eider are massive birds with odd bills.
Their bills are orange with a red tip and have the weirdest shape you’ve ever seen.
These seabirds can dive 150 feet below the water to catch their prey, such as krill, fish, and squids.
These super social birds can have flocks with 100,000 members!
In the sky, they can reach speeds of almost 45 miles per hour.
In order to protect their eggs from arctic foxes and ravens, the female king eider will refuse to do anything but sit on her eggs.
She may not even eat as much as she is supposed to, causing her to lose weight during the incubation stage.
Gannets are some of the most accurate divers in the bird world.
The Northern gannet likes to speed up its descent by dropping from an incredibly high cliff, plunging its body 72 feet underwater.
They use their feet and wings to catch underwater prey.
Gannets like to place their nests against cliffs to avoid predators and to have easy access to food.
Part of what makes Gannets such accurate divers is their amazing eyesight.
To locate fish, they look for the reflection of sunlight off of a fish’s scales.
You can find these majestic divers all along the east coast of North America, although more breeding occurs in Newfoundland.
14. Caspian Terns
Caspian terns are striking birds that love their coastal habitat.
You will know you’re looking at Caspian terns by their bright orange beaks, their black heads, and their white bodies.
These birds have learned to fly parallel with the water in order to catch fish.
When necessary, they will dive into the water to catch their prey.
A Caspian tern is looking for minimal work in order to get their food and will even steal food from other members of their colony.
These birds have 31-inch wingspans and are the biggest of all terns.
Populations have been seeing a steady decline and many experts are blaming the number of toxins in the Great Lakes for this decline.
15. Blue-Footed Boobies
Never has a bird’s name matched so perfectly to their description than the case of blue-footed boobies.
These goofy birds are just as funny-looking as their name.
Their blue feet stomp proudly while doing extremely silly mating dances.
Female blue-footed boobies judge the males based on their feet and mating dance.
These webbed blue feet are perfect for swimming and cutting through the water.
Blue-footed boobies will circle potential underwater prey in the sky before dropping like a torpedo into the water.
When they hit the water, they are going as fast as 60 miles per hour.
Blue-footed boobies can have a wingspan as large as five feet.
16. Barrow’s Goldeneyes
When most people think of Goldeneye, they are reminded of the James Bond movies and hit video games.
Not too many people consider the Barrow’s goldeneye.
These birds have piercing yellow eyes against a black and white body.
Not only do their feathers create a beautiful pattern, but their wings are also quite powerful.
They’re able to fly at high speeds, but they prefer to travel in smaller flocks.
Just because they look pretty and friendly doesn’t mean that they are.
These birds are actually quite aggressive, even towards their own species.
They love to dive for fish, fish eggs, mollusks, crustaceans, and insects.
17. Common Murres
Common murres are known for their ability to “fly” underwater.
These powerful-winged birds are able to dive 100 underwater, but the record for the deepest dive of the common murre is 550 feet.
These birds aren’t just naturals in the water, but they can fly with the best at only 39 days old.
The common murre has similar feather patterns and even head shapes to penguins.
That earned them the nickname “flying penguins”.
In order to catch fish once they’re in the water, they use their tongue to pierce fish against the roofs of their mouths.
The only time these birds are on land is to nest. Otherwise, they’re spending the rest of their time in the water or sky!
The razorbill is a bird that may prioritize swimming over flying, but have no doubt, they can do both.
These black seabirds are located mostly in Europe.
A razorbill will leave its colony and breed before it even learns to fly.
These birds will hunt down squid and other fish with their razor-sharp beak.
They can even use their strong beaks for breaking through the shells of crustaceans.
For safekeeping, the razorbill will eat its prey underwater.
The razorbill is the only species left of its genus, Alca.
All other genus members have only been found as fossils.
19. Shoebill Storks
The shoebill storks are some of the strangest-looking birds with massive bills.
Their large mouths are used for eating prey like eels, catfish, lizards, snakes, lungfish, and even baby crocodiles!
Nothing is too big for their massive mouths.
Although these birds can fly, they prefer to do all their hunting on the water.
The shoebill stork will float as still as a leaf until its prey gets close enough.
Then the shoebill stork spreads its wings and dives down, bill first.
The freakish bird grinds its prey with its strong bill and jaws.
Sadly, there are only 3,300 to 5,300 shoebill storks left on the planet.
These birds live in South Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.
The hoatzin is an Amazonian bird that resembles a phoenix.
Their flamboyant plumes and bold, blue face give the hoatzin a sense of allegory.
Hoatzins aren’t great at flying, but once they’ve climbed their way up a tree, they can soar for short distances.
Their large wings help them zip from tree to tree in the rainforest.
This bird is an amazing swimmer, despite not having webbed feet like other aquatic birds.
That’s not their only unique trait.
Hoatzins don’t have normal bird stomachs.
These odd birds are the last of their order, Opisthocomiformes.
Flamingos aren’t just fun, pretty birds who like to stand around with their legs shaped like a 4.
These iconic, pink birds are also excellent swimmers and can fly for over 300 miles.
A whole flock of flying flamingos can reach speeds of 31 to 37 miles per hour.
Flamingos’ webbed feet are for more than just balancing.
Their webbed feet make them speedy swimmers, which helps them avoid predators like crocodiles.
While feeding underwater, flamingos will hold their breath for a short time.
Flamingos spend a third of their day preening themselves in order to spread waterproof oil through their feathers.
You can spot a loon by its black and white coat and its piercing red eyes.
Loons aren’t just good at flying straight out of the water, but they’re even better in the water.
They are able to dive 200 feet below the water’s surface and remain underwater for eight minutes.
When these birds are in the air, they reach speeds of 70 miles per hour.
However, loons take a moment to gain altitude and need large stretches of water in order to get up past the trees and other obstacles.
Although loons may look graceful, they’re actually quite clumsy.
This is due to their feet being towards the back of their bodies.
As a trade-off, their leg position helps them swim better.
23. White-Headed Ducks
The white-headed duck has its namesake white head, but nobody is saying anything about its bright blue beak.
Only fully grown males have blue beaks, which their mates are attracted to.
They are excellent divers who spend just about as much time below water as they do above water.
The white-headed duck will dive for five to eight seconds only to pop its head out for a second before going back under.
They’re hunting for crustaceans, insects, and aquatic plants.
Sadly, these odd little fellows are endangered due to overhunting and a loss of territory.
People aren’t the only ones hunting these sitting ducks.
Brown rats and seagulls frequently go after the easy prey.
24. Flying Fishes
Flying fish are some of the most unique-looking fish you have ever seen.
While you aren’t going to see any flying fish in the sky, you will see them “fly” out of the water for short periods of time.
They can soar in the sky above the water at speeds of 35 miles per hour!
These fish can remain in flight for 650 feet at a time.
If you think that a pterosaur was a dinosaur, you would be incorrect.
Pterosaurs are considered to be extinct flying lizards by modern paleontologists.
While most people do correctly know that pterosaurs could fly extremely well, what you may not have known is that they were great swimmers, as well.
Oftentimes, the pterosaur would leap into the sky directly from the water.
In order to move their massive bodies through the water, pterosaurs would flap their wings as if they were flying in the sky.
They would have to keep their gigantic heads and monstrous bills above water by stretching them out.