I moved to Michigan nearly a year ago, and it's been a little bit of an adjustment. Most of it good, but no one can possibly prepare you for the mountain of snow that gets dumped on you the first winter you spend in the mitten state.

Janna/ TSM
Janna/ TSM

But the change in weather patterns wasn't the strangest thing I noticed once I made my Michigan status official. It was one specific bird that blew my mind to find on the west side of the state: Seagulls.

Michael Kurzynowski via Unsplash
Michael Kurzynowski via Unsplash

Yes, I get it. Michigan's beaches do a really fantastic job of making you forget that you're basically landlocked when it comes to ocean shoreline. But these loud weirdos sure make it even more of a convincing sell.

Seagull Attacks Being Reported From Coastal Towns This Summer
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And the weirder thing? Finding them 45+ minutes away from the great lakes, in the middle of cities like Grand Rapids. The other morning as I was walking into work, I heard their screeching cries from a parking lot downtown and felt like I was in the middle of some weird hidden video prank.

But nope, just some bored seagulls looking for a good time at Artprize, I suppose.

Are Michigan's Seagulls actually Seagulls?

Listen, I know they're CALLED seagulls, but are they ACTUALLY the same thing you'd find at the pacific or atlantic oceans?

The answer is complicated. The short answer is: No. They aren't.

But, not because they're some lesser bird that isn't worthy of sharing a name with their friends on the east and west coast. It's actually because there is no such bird as the seagull.

That's right. That term is just a catch-all phrase used to explain all birds that are by the 'sea'. Moreover, technically the term you would use when seeing them on any of the lakes in Michigan would be a "great lakes gull".

So what kind of birds ARE Great Lake Gulls?

There are two kinds of birds that we would commonly refer to as Great Lake Gulls in Michigan. They are the ring-billed gull, which is most commonly found around Ann Arbor.

Where Seas Die And Earthquakes Are Born - The Southern Tip of the San Andreas Fault
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There's also the larger herring gull, which can be found around inland lakes and the Great Lakes, as well as on the East Coast.

General Views of New Jersey
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So the next time you find yourself visiting one of many lakes, and you see someone referring to the "seagulls", remind them that we're proud to call them Great Lake gulls.

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