Ask Difference

Magpie vs. Penguin — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on November 2, 2023
Magpies are passerine birds known for their intelligence and black and white plumage, while penguins are non-flying seabirds, recognized for their upright stance and swimming ability.
Magpie vs. Penguin — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Magpie and Penguin


Key Differences

Magpies belong to the family Corvidae, which includes crows and ravens, known for their complex social structures and problem-solving abilities. Penguins are members of the family Spheniscidae and are adapted to marine life, with their flippers designed for swimming rather than flying. While magpies can be found in various environments and are adept at flight, penguins are mostly found in the Southern Hemisphere and are flightless, spending much of their life in the water.
Penguins are distinctive for their tuxedo-like black and white plumage and their upright waddle on land. Magpies, on the other hand, are known for their iridescent feathers that can reflect shades of blue or green in the light. Penguins' primary habitat ranges from the icy regions of Antarctica to temperate islands, whereas magpies are versatile and inhabit a range of areas including grasslands, woodlands, and urban settings.
Dietary habits of magpies are omnivorous; they eat a variety of foods from insects to small mammals and fruits. Penguins primarily feed on marine life such as fish, squid, and krill. The foraging behavior of magpies involves seeking food on the ground and in trees, unlike penguins, which forage by diving into the sea.
Reproduction differs significantly between these birds. Magpies build intricate nests in trees and can be highly territorial during the breeding season. Penguins, on the contrary, often breed in large colonies and lay their eggs on the ground or in burrows, with some species like the Emperor Penguin incubating their single egg on their feet in the midst of harsh Antarctic winters.
Lastly, the social behavior of magpies and penguins contrasts starkly. Magpies may gather in groups, and some species display cooperative breeding behaviors. Penguins are known for their communal lifestyle, especially during breeding, with some species living in colonies that number in the thousands.

Comparison Chart


Part of the Corvidae family
Part of the Spheniscidae family


Varied, including woodlands and urban areas
Mostly Southern Hemisphere, coastal regions

Ability to Fly

Capable of flight

Social Structure

Can be solitary or social, less densely populated
Highly social, often in dense colonies

Breeding Habits

Nest in trees, territorial
Breed on ground or ice, less territorial

Compare with Definitions


Known for their chattering calls and playful behavior.
The magpies were causing a ruckus outside with their loud calls.


Recognizable by their black and white plumage, resembling a formal suit.
The child laughed, pointing at the penguin's tuxedo-like appearance.


They are often associated with superstitions and folklore.
In folklore, seeing a single magpie is considered an omen.


Penguins are adapted to cold climates, with species also found in temperate zones.
We watched the penguins huddle together for warmth.


They have a diet ranging from insects to small animals and fruits.
The magpie swooped down to snatch a berry from the bush.


They are a popular attraction at zoos due to their charismatic nature.
The zoo's penguin exhibit drew crowds throughout the day.


Magpies exhibit a variety of vocalizations and mimicry.
The magpie mimicked the sound of a car alarm perfectly.


Penguins' breeding behavior includes intricate courtship dances and vocalizations.
The penguins performed a dance to attract their mates.


A superficially similar Australian bird, Gymnorhina tibicen or Cracticus tibicen.


Penguins (order Sphenisciformes , family Spheniscidae ) are a group of aquatic flightless birds. They live almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere, with only one species, the Galápagos penguin, found north of the Equator.


Magpies are birds of the Corvidae family. Like other members of their family, they are widely considered to be intelligent creatures.


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 various birds of the family Corvidae having a long tail and black, blue, or green plumage with white markings, and noted for their chattering call, especially Pica hudsonia, of western North America, and P. pica, of Eurasia and Africa. Also called pie2.


(Obsolete) The great auk.


Any of various birds that resemble the magpie.


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 person who chatters.


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


One who compulsively collects or hoards small objects.


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


One of several kinds of bird in the family Corvidae, especially Pica pica.


(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.


(figurative) Someone who displays a magpie-like quality such as hoarding or stealing objects.


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


(slang) A fan or member of Newcastle United F.C.


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


The third circle on a target, between the inner and outer.


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.


A halfpenny.


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.


(transitive) To mark with patches of black and white or light and dark.


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


(ambitransitive) To steal or hoard (items) as magpies are believed to do.


A flightless seabird known for its upright posture and swimming ability.
The penguin dove into the icy water with ease.


(intransitive) To talk idly; to talk about other people's private business.


Any one of numerous species of the genus Pica and related genera, allied to the jays, but having a long graduated tail.


Any one of several black-and-white birds, such as Gymnorhina tibicen, not belonging to the genus Pica.


A talkative person; a chatterbox.


Long-tailed black-and-white bird that utters a chattering call


Someone who collects things that have been discarded by others


An obnoxious and foolish and loquacious talker


A social and intelligent bird with black and white plumage.
A magpie perched on the fence, tilting its head curiously.

Common Curiosities

Can penguins survive in warm climates?

Some species, like the Galapagos penguin, live in warm climates near the equator.

Are magpies found in North America?

Yes, the black-billed magpie is native to western North America.

Do magpies steal shiny objects?

This is a myth; research suggests magpies are not attracted to shiny things more than other objects.

How do penguins keep warm in cold environments?

Penguins have a layer of blubber and tightly packed feathers for insulation.

What is the largest penguin species?

The Emperor penguin is the largest, standing nearly 4 feet tall.

How deep can penguins dive?

Depending on the species, some penguins can dive over 800 feet deep.

Do magpies mate for life?

Many magpie species are monogamous and may form long-term pair bonds.

What do magpies typically eat?

Magpies are omnivorous and eat insects, small animals, seeds, and fruit.

Do penguins have natural predators?

Yes, penguins can fall prey to seals, sharks, and sometimes large birds.

Can magpies be tamed?

Magpies can become accustomed to humans, especially if fed regularly.

Are magpies considered pests?

In some areas, magpies are seen as pests due to their scavenging habits.

How fast can penguins swim?

Some penguins can swim up to 15-25 miles per hour.

What is a group of penguins called?

A group of penguins on land is called a waddle, and in the water, it's called a raft.

How can you tell male and female magpies apart?

In some species, there are slight differences in plumage, but often it's not easy to distinguish.

Are all magpies black and white?

Most are, but some species have additional colors, like the green magpie.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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