Sistine Seagull: A Smoke Cam Star

The bird stole the show—until the white smoke came

By Emily Feldman
|  Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013  |  Updated 2:20 PM EDT
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Sistine Seagull: A Smoke Cam Star

AP

A seagull sits on the chimney on the roof of the Sistine Chapel while another flies past in St. Peter's Square during the second day of the conclave to elect a new pope at the Vatican on March 13.

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The cameras of the world were fixed on the humble chimney atop the Sistine Chapel Tuesday awaiting a smoke signal from the conclave meeting to elect the new pope when a winged creature appeared.

It was not the Holy Spirit, but a seagull, who suddenly became the talk of Twitter and the news organizations covering the papal election.

"Maybe the seagull on the stovepipe will be our canary in the coal mine," NBC's Mark Luka tweeted. "Will he feel the heat rising?"

Black smoke had billowed from the copper chimney twice before the bird made its landing Tuesday and spectators were awaiting the results from an afternoon vote.

The bird groomed itself, pecking at its feathers, shaking itself out, seemingly unabashed by the media attention.

Its every move was carefully monitored on air and on social media -- where it spawned the Twitter accounts @PapalSeagull and @SistineSeagull.

It flew away, but then returned. It left again and was soon replaced by a fellow seagull. It lifted its leg, and the speculation intensified. Could it be that the bird was feeling heat from below? Perhaps the bird was feeling chilly and trying to warm itself. Or maybe there was a pope. See the speculation and commentary below.

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