Winter in Montana can sometimes feel like an arctic tundra and may leave some wondering if penguins could survive a Montana winter. Information gathered gives insight into these adorable flightless birds that would do just fine in the winter…depending on what type of penguin it is. 

Elissa Nunez with National Geographic says there are 18 different species of penguins, and most live in icy Antarctica, like emperors, adelies, chinstraps, and gentoos. But some penguins can be found in warmer climates as well.

But according to the Smithsonian Ocean, only two types of penguins, the Adelie and Emperor, live exclusively in Antarctica. These penguins maintain a body heat of 100 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Various penguins can live in temperatures ranging from 90 degrees on the Patagonia coast to a frigid -76 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Feathers on a bird account for about 86% of insulation, so warm weather can make antarctic penguins pretty toasty. Penguins that live in warmer climates, like the African and the Humboldt penguin, have featherless patches on their face and feet to divert blood to cool when they are overheated. 

For penguins living in colder climates, the Adelie has feathers that provide coverage up to the beal of their nose. If adelies overheat, they can divert blood to their wings, turning them a faint, pink color.  They are also one of the two Antarctica penguins that have feather coverage up to the beak of their nose. When penguins feel cold, they often use the counter-current exchange method, where heat is exchanged through warm blood traveling in vessels to the legs and feet. 

With all of this in mind, could penguins survive a Montana winter? The short answer is yes. Warm penguins could use the counter-current exchange method to stay warm, and Antarctica penguins could cool themselves off since they are used to frigidly cold conditions.

While penguins could hypothetically live through Montana winters, don’t expect to see one anytime soon.