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Art by Barry Kent MacKay

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Art by Barry Kent MacKay

Barry Kent MacKay Vega Gull
(Artwork - 033) Vega Gull (Larus vegae)

The Vega Gull has historically been considered to be a subspecies of the Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) that breeds in Siberia. However, the International Ornithological Congress has assigned the taxon full species status.  
 
Olsen and Larsson (2003), in their monograph, Gulls of North America, also give it full species status, as do Howell and Dunn (2007) in Gulls of the Americas.  On the other hand, the American Ornithologists Checklist still lists it as a subspecies of the Herring Gull, and so does Clements (2012) in his checklist of birds of the world, version 6.6.
 
I have no opinion at all on its taxonomic status, but I am interested to learn that it is showing up more and more often in North America, including a very solid record for Ontario, in October 2010.  Most other sightings have been on the west coast.   
 
This painting illustrates a paper describing the appearance of the Ontario bird.  The Vega Gull is in the middle, surrounded by Herring Gulls, different ages but all in winter or late fall plumages, of the North American subspecies, L. a. smithsonianus, which is common in Ontario.  The Vega Gull has a darker mantle, slightly shorter tarsus and a wider white bar on the trailing edge of the secondary feathers of the wing than are to be found in the otherwise nearly identical Herring Gulls.
 
The small painting is in acrylics and gouache watercolour, with some coloured pencil, and shows a winter scene based on the Ontario sighting of the species.

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Copyright © Barry Kent MacKay
Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
See his website: http://barrykentmackay.ca/

 

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