You'll either groan when you read this or if you're anything like me, you'll stash it in your mental pocket for your next social gathering when you're in need of some small talk fodder.

Yes, It's True. Seagulls Don't Exist.

This isn't related to that satirical (right?) conspiracy about how birds in general don't exist — that would be too easy and it's a whole other topic for another day.

This is one of those stories about how we become so accustomed to a word that it makes its way into our everyday vocabulary and now here we are with non-existent seagulls.

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A european herring gull stealing an ice cream cone from a hand in flight
Getty Images/iStockphoto

You see, "seagull" is a term that has come to define those large, mostly white flying beasts that seem to enjoy taking your soft-serve cone or McDonald's fries at the exact moment that it will cause you the most embarrassment.

Some call them beach rats, or dumpster ducks, but in fact, the term seagull does not apply to any of these birds.

Are We Just Being "Gullible"?

All gulls belong to the gull family, but technically (as technical as I can get here on my little knowledge of the subject) there is no member of the gull family called a seagull. And this is why this very simple piece of trivia is now stuck in your brain, ready to be deployed during awkwardly silent social moments.

There's even been some debate on whether or not it should be brought up at all.

Are You a Victim of "Birdsdplaining"?

Rebecca Heisman wrote in 2018 for Audoban a surprisingly scathing article about "birdsplaining" called "Seagull or Gull: Who Really Cares?" In it she warns that pointing out the "error" to some people may actually discourage them from getting involved in the birding hobby. Nobody wants to be reprimanded by the grammar police when you're simply complaining that a "so-called seagull" stole your bag of chips at the beach.

A Group Of Canada Geese Interacting With Each Other
Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Heisman points out that a similar ornithological naming error will also ruffle some feathers. Pointing out that your child was attacked by a "Canadian goose" and not a Canada goose (the correct term) won't win you any popularity contests with the birding crowd either.

Turns Out There's No Sea Either

And finally, here's the real kicker: Gulls don't even necessarily live near the sea and can actually live pretty far from large bodies of water. Tell this to your friend in the midwest who was dumped on while loading their groceries at Target and they'll say, "Duh." (FYI, the most common gull in Kansas City is apparently the Ring-billed Gull.)

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