A rare bird for Alaska, turkey vultures have been seen in several locations around the state this year. The above photo was taken in Chalkyitsik, which is in the northeast part of the state in the Yukon Flats north of the Yukon River. Turkey vultures have also been documented in Noatak, which is in the northwest part of Alaska, as well as in Juneau.
Their normal range is limited to southern Canada, but these migratory raptors are built for long distance travel. They have been known to travel over 200 miles in a day by just riding the thermals and barely flapping their wings.
There is some evidence that the turkey vulture is expanding its range northward, but hundreds of birds of varying species that are not common to Alaska show up sporadically. Many go unnoticed. For the turkey vulture, it is a tad difficult to travel incognito.