Sea gull perches on Sistine Chapel smoke stack

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Associated Press

Posted on March 13, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 13 at 11:07 AM

VATICAN CITY (AP) — With no pope, a sea gull is stealing the show at the papal conclave.

Smoke watching has become bird watching in St. Peter's Square after a sea gull perched atop the chimney that belches out smoke from the Sistine Chapel to signal whether or not a pope has been elected.

From the chapel's tiled roof, the gull had a commanding bird's eye view Wednesday of the sea of pilgrims eagerly waiting in the rain for papal tidings. Black smoke means no pope yet; white means "Habemus Papam" — "We have a pope!"

The bird offered welcome comic relief.

Dublin tourist Harry Sheeran quipped that the gull was "nearer to heaven than we are."

Minutes after being spotted, the bird inspired a slew of Twitter accounts.

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