Vultures are large birds of prey that normally have a head or neck that is often devoid of feathers. Due to their habits of feeding on carrion, they have gotten a bad reputation, however their ecological niche is valuable and they are quite interesting birds. There are three different species of vultures that live in North America, but only one has been observed in Alaska, and it has been a rare site.
Vultures of Alaska
Turkey Vulture (Rare)
The Turkey Vulture is a large brown bird with a pinkish head that is featherless. In flight, the trailing edge of the wings will show white feathers, with the rest of the underside of the bird being brown. Turkey Vulture will often be seen soaring overhead, or perched on cliffs or other tall structures. They can also be seen near roadsides feeding on carrion.
In North America, Turkey Vultures can be seen in southern states and central America year round. They move into northern states and Southern Canada during the summer. The Turkey Vulture can normally be seen in Wisconsin during the spring, summer, and fall. Occasionally, one will stray into Alaska, but it is very rare for one to show up there.
Diet and Foraging Behavior
Turkey Vultures feed mostly on dead prey such as roadkill or carrion. It is said that Turkey Vultures will never attack live prey. They serve as a valuable “clean-up crew” in the ecosystems they inhabit.
Where to Find this Bird
Look for Turkey Vultures soaring overhead or perching up on high structures such as signs, power lines, cliffs, or tall trees. They will often roost or feed in groups. Also keep an eye out for these birds feeding in open areas or roadsides.