Sistine Seagull

Sistine Seagull

Updated Mar 18, 2013 at 02:16PM EDT by Brad.

Added Mar 14, 2013 at 07:31AM EDT by MKLnator.

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Sistine Seagull is the nickname given to a seagull that was spotted resting on top of the Sistine Chapel for several hours during the papal conclave in Vatican City on March 12th, 2013. The bird came to the center of online attention as people eagerly awaited for white smoke to rise from the chimney, a signal indicating that a new pope has been chosen.


On March 13th, 2013, as thousands of umbrella-clad onlookers waited for white smoke to billow out of the Sistine Chapel in Vatican City to notify the world of the selection of a new pope following Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation in February. Additionally, tens of thousands of people were watching online via live stream. While cameras were on the Chapel’s chimney, a seagull was spotted resting on it for several hours.


Online, viewers began discussing the bird on Twitter, with more than 1900 tweets[2] about its choice of perch between March 13th and 14th. By 11:48 AM on the 13th, the novelty Twitter account @SistineSeagull[1] was created, to humorously livetweet the papal conclave from the seagull’s perspective. In slightly more than 24 hours, the account has accrued more than 8800 followers. The account’s first post (shown below) was retweeted nearly 300 times.

Approximately two hours after the Twitter account’s debut, CTV News[3] compiled dozens of tweets about the bird, as well as some from the novelty account. Also on the 13th, stories about the public’s appreciation of the seagull, as well as the Twitter account, appeared on CBC News[4], the Huffington Post[5], the Washington Post[10], GlobalPost[8] and CBS News.[6] The following day, additional news sites provided coverage of the internet’s response to the seagull including ABC News[7] and Voxxi.[9]

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