Condor Biologist Mike Tyner Remembered

With a heavy heart, I write this post about the tragic, untimely death of condor biologist Mike Tyner.

While out checking on a recently released condor in Big Sur, Calif. Mike was fatally struck by a large tree during a severe windstorm on November 30, 2011.

But he was no stranger to putting his life on the line to help save these rare, magnificent birds. In 2008, he joined the rescue team responsible for saving eight condors from the Basin Complex Wildfire, which razed two condor facilities as it raged across Big Sur.

Mike was unassuming, humble and hard working, says Ventana Wildlife Society’s executive director, Kelly Sorenson. “He was truly an exceptional individual. This loss is catastrophic, heartbreaking and painful. As we mourn the passing of a remarkable friend, our hearts go out to his family. Mike will be greatly missed.”

Mike worked for the Ventana Wildlife Society, an organization solely dedicated to monitoring Big Sur’s flock of wild condors. And for several years, Defenders partnered with Ventana, helping to support Mike’s research.

Thanks to Mike, the team was able to locate numerous nests in Big Sur. And twice each year, he led an effort to recapture every condor in the flock to check their blood for lead poisoning—the leading cause of death among endangered condors—helping to ensure that sick condors received urgent, lifesaving medical care.

Although Mike is no longer with us, his dedication and research will be with us every day. His work has left a lasting mark on condor conservation efforts.

Our partners at Ventana Wildlife Society have helped to bring the California condor back from the brink of extinction—thanks, in part, to Mike’s dedication.

May his spirit soar with the condors.

3 Responses to “Condor Biologist Mike Tyner Remembered”

  1. charlotte cornwell

    So young, so dedicated, so sad. Your legacy will be felt by generations to come. RIP.

  2. kirsten m. kuhre

    I remember when I first learned of the plight of the California Condor. Mike was a hero and caretaker of these beautiful creatures. It is sad that they have lost a champion for them. Bless Mike’s beautiful soul.

  3. Kristy Clougherty

    Just days ago I had the opportunity to spot Mike’s Bird 66 (I have never seen a condor before outside the of the zoo.) Breathtaking to say the least. This bird was nuzzling up to “Pinnacles 50”. For two days I obsessively watched the two birds on the hill behind the residence I was visiting in San Simeon. The birds had easy access to water and ate off of a deceased cow just yards away. They often flew over the house and and one time I spotted what I believe to be an unmarked juvenile. I was fortunate to take photos of #50 and juvenile. I was immediately taken in by the time I spent watching these birds and later learned that #66 was “Mike’s Bird”. I felt obligated to let others know that Mike’s Bird is flourishing on private land overlooking the California coastline. I wish I had an opportunity to meet Mike. It’s clear he was a very remarkable man. Godspeed to Mike and your bird.

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