Where Eagles Soar
Photos by Ken O’Renick
By Kathy Feist
Eagles are patient creatures. They can sit motionless on a limb for hours observing and waiting.
So, too, can wildlife photographers.
Ken O’Renick, who lives at Loch Lloyd, has been photographing the gated community’s newest residents since they moved there three years ago. He has taken thousands of photos of the eagles and their offspring, some of which have been published in magazines and hung in galleries.
“The eagles are magnificent animals. So majestic,” he rants.
Three months out of the year, usually starting in March or April, O’Renick leaves his house at 6 a.m. and heads to the nest tree located on the golf course’s 12th Fairway to photograph the birds until 9 a.m. He returns at 6:30 p.m. for another three-hour shoot.
“Ninety percent of the time is waiting and observing,” he says. “In order to photograph wildlife, you have to be there all the time. You get to know their behavior.”
Over time, O’Renick has discovered that when the sentinel eagle gets antsy, it is ready to take off. He gets his 600mm lens ready.
If the wind is blowing from the east, he will get a good shot of the eagle taking off from the nest. An eagle needs the wind for lift.
Eagles build their nests near water where they primarily subsist off fish. However, anything under four pounds is easy prey.
O’Renick has several photos of blue birds and swallows chasing eagles in order to keep the predator away from their young. “And they don’t let up!” says O’Renick. “But the eagle is impervious to all that.”
Eagles are also protective of their own young as O’Renick once learned.
Usually shooting from a hundred feet away, O’Renick may have overstepped his boundaries once. An eagle swooped down toward his head to let him know so. Impervious to the attack, O’Renick got a great photo of the angry bird.
In general, the birds feel safe in their nest which can weigh as much as a ton. Chances are, the monogamous eagles will remain there for their lifetime, as long as 30 years. During that time they may hatch several sets of offspring.
Eagles usually lay their eggs in January. They hatch 35 days later. For the next eight weeks, the adults continuously feed their young. “The chicks get bigger than the adults,” says O’Renick. He has the photo to prove it.
The birds trim down when they begin to fly, or fledge, at 10 to 12 weeks. “When you capture them coming out of the nest it is exciting. The adrenaline is just flowing,” he says.
In five months, the birds have left the nest..
South KC Home
O’Renick and his wife and collaborator Kathy have called south Kansas City home for over 50 years. They raised their three children here. For 47 years he owned O’Renick Co., a wealth management company, located at 102nd and Holmes Rd. In 2013 he retired and moved from his home at Timber Trace to his current residence.
O’Renick says he has always been interested in photography and brags about his first selfie at the age of 14 taken with a Brownie Hawkeye. He built a photo gallery at his home where he sometimes has showings. His photos include wildlife, travel, people and artistry. To view photos of the eagles and his other work, visit www.kenorenickphotography.com.