Common birds that dive from the air include gulls, pelicans, gannets and terns. Birds that dive from the surface of the water include loons, grebes, cormorants and certain species of ducks. Penguins are also divers.
Birds primarily dive into or under the water to catch food. Surface diving birds usually eat underwater plants, fish or shellfish. Most of those species have legs further in the back to help propel them through the water. Birds that dive from the air usually eat fish. They protect their heads and necks by flexing them depending on the speed and angle of the dive.