For The Love Of All That’s Birdy, There Is No Such Thing As A Seagull

No Such Thing as a Seagull

I don’t join many groups on Facebook but I am in a lot of groups because people add me to them, most of the groups are about nature photography, wildlife photography, bird photography, bird ID, and you guessed it, birds. I guess people see my photos and go “Hey, she belongs in this group”?  I dunno, but because I am in those groups photos posted into them show up in my timeline and some of them make me shake my head.

One of the things that make my feathers ruffle though is when I see people post a bird photo and call it a “seagull” because there is no such thing as a seagull. If you plan on being a bird photographer you might want to make note of that for the love of all that is birdy.

Not a Ring-billed Seagull

And yeah, the rest of us bird photographers, birders, birding nerds and ornithologists might just make fun of you if you call these birds “seagull”.

Under just the Genus Larus we have Pacific gull, Belcher’s gull, Olrog’s gull, Black-tailed gull, Heermann’s gull, Mew gull, Ring-billed gull, California gull, Great black-backed gull, Kelp gull, Cape gull, Glaucous-winged gull, Western gull, Yellow-footed gull, Glaucous gull, Iceland gull, Thayer’s gull, European herring gull, American herring gull, Caspian gull, Yellow-legged gull, East Siberian herring gull, Armenian gull, Slaty-backed gull, Lesser black-backed gull, and Heuglin’s gull.

Not included in any of their names is “seagull”.

Take a look at the world list of gulls here on Wikipedia and you won’t see a single “seagull”. You can also check guide books and birding apps. Or if you want to stir up a birding group on line call them “seagulls”,   I dare ya and please send me a link to the post.  🙂

We said goodbye to Thayer’s gull this year not because they went extinct but because they were lumped with Iceland gulls. Some folks were upset by that lump.

Dude, it's California Gull

Yeah, I know non-birding people call them seagulls but not all gulls live by the sea and even those that do live by the sea are not seagulls.

It’s just wrong I tell you and so will every knowledgeable birder, bird nerd, biologist, ornithologist and bird photographer. Some of them, I won’t name who, will go into great depth while telling you why.

A Little Laughing Gull Humor

I’m just poking a little fun at people who call these birds seagulls instead of gulls and I had fun adding the stick arms, signs and speech bubbles to my gull photos to get my point across. My sons used to tell me I had an odd sense of humor and maybe I do but if this post stops one person from calling gulls “seagulls” it was well worth it for the love of all that is birdy.

Life is good.



  1. Gaile Cooper December 8, 2017 at 6:13 am

    Can I join your group? Love the mini lesson on ll things gull.

  2. Pepe Forte November 27, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    God….how many times have I referred to gulls as seagulls? Probably 10 short of a billion. Thanks for the learning curve correction. What amazes me is that people would actually take exception to your post. I think it’s great info and a hell of a lot of fun. Thanks Mia

  3. David Ballard November 27, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    And with this one post you have invalidated all those funny seagull butt posts!

  4. Chris November 27, 2017 at 8:39 am

    There is no such thing as seagull!:) But there are gulls that fly on the sea:)

  5. Mia McPherson November 27, 2017 at 7:34 am

    I wanted to thank you all for your comments on this post. I am glad it made some of you giggle and laugh because you found it humorous. That was what it was meant to be, lighthearted, humorous and yet still informative. Sometimes I slip and call them seagulls myself and I certainly don’t condemn people who say seagull. (Kathie, you don’t make me crazy, I love you.)

    All in all many other people enjoyed the post but there were a few who seemed upset by it, not my regular viewers here but people who don’t know me and don’t even read my blog. Somehow it went from a funny post with birds that have sticks for arms to me being “elitist” which is absurd. Or from “ruffled feathers” to a supposedly full on rant.

    I won’t apologize for my post or any grammatical errors I may have made while typing it up at o’dark hundred. This is my blog not the Washington Post or the National Geographic magazine.

    You can find the word seagull in dictionaries, that is true. The word seagull is not used in ornithology, you won’t find it in the name of any species of gull, it is not on any birding checklists and I try to stick to the correct nomenclature here.

    • Laura Culley November 27, 2017 at 9:44 am

      Mia, there’s always the naysayers and those who are incapable of reading (listening) with comprehension. It’s the with-comprehension part that stymies them! Don’t ever apologize for sharing your very well-educated opinion on your own blog, for pity’s sake! FIE to those who criticize without knowing what they’re talking about! FIE on them! Keep your focus on reality–life IS good!

      • Mia McPherson November 27, 2017 at 11:02 am

        Thanks Laura, I really haven’t let the negative comments bother me.

        • Laura Culley November 27, 2017 at 3:04 pm

          Glad to hear you’re not letting them bother you Mia! They don’t deserve any of your time/energy!

  6. Kim November 27, 2017 at 6:55 am

    Well, I’m raising my hand. Living in Florida most of my life, they were always referred to as seagulls. Thanks for the funny and informative post. I’ll be happily educating anyone who refers to the gulls using the “S” word. I love learning about all things birds, so thanks Mia!

  7. Mary Martha Murphy November 27, 2017 at 6:00 am

    I copied your photo for my beginning birding class. It says it ALL. Thanks for your humous takes.

  8. Arthur J Gest November 26, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    My pet peeve are folks that use the term Canadian Goose or Geese. Another birder boo-boo! Great post enjoyed it keep up the good work.

    • Mary Martha Murphy November 27, 2017 at 6:13 am

      I feel for you I always tell my newbies, “It is not a citizen of Canada. It is a Canada goose.”

  9. Kathie November 26, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Mia, you know I am a bird nerd, but I am also guilty of occasionally calling them seagulls. It’s what we all heard growing up. Old habits are hard to break, but I am.trying. Until then, I will just let the gulls laugh at me! I hope I don’t drive you too crazy!

    Thanks for this informative and humorous post!

  10. Donna Rae Caporaso November 26, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Thank you! I’m sharing it with the WORLD

  11. Elephants Child November 26, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Our resident gulls will probably never see the sea. But they still carry the label often.

  12. Laura Culley November 26, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Thanks so much for that laugh this morning!!
    When I was a child of four or five, the first birds to catch my attention with their majesty were “seagulls.” HOWEVER, I grew up, learned a few things and like Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, you do better!” Thankfully, I’m educable despite that my gull ID is reasonably pathetic. Sometimes I know…other times, I just call them gulls. 😉

  13. April Olson November 26, 2017 at 9:51 am

    The sad part is I know the correct name, but old habits die hard. I find the word seagull slipping out. My daughter rubs it in, it is a pet peeve of hers.

  14. Patty Chadwick November 26, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Actually, I say ” see gull?” Whenever I want someone to look….

  15. Jane Ellison November 26, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Thank you for posting this,clarification, Mia.
    It has always bugged me too!

  16. Laila Quick November 26, 2017 at 8:29 am

    This was great! I was giggling AND feeling slightly ashamed at how many gulls I’ve insulted by misnaming them over the years! Thank you for the (gentle and humorous) correction, Mia.

  17. Laila Quick November 26, 2017 at 8:29 am

    This was great! I was giggling AND feeling slightly ashamed at how many gulls I’ve misnamed over the years! Thank you for the (gentle and humorous) correction, Mia.

  18. Nikonsteve November 26, 2017 at 7:58 am

    Now you tell me!!…: )

  19. Liz Cormack November 26, 2017 at 5:47 am

    Fantastic way to get the message across. Well done!

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