A Gift of Moments


Isidor Jeklin to donate award-winning photographs

Photo credit: Isidor Jeklin/CLO
Black-capped Chickadee
Photographer Isidor Jeklin has the knack and the know-how for stopping birds in midair. His signature photos capture the drama of birds in flight, preserving precise, pivotal moments that are only a fleeting blur in real time. Now 89, Jeklin has generously decided to bequeath his award-winning photographs to the Lab, nearly 10 percent of the Lab's slide collection.

Jeklin'sphotoshavereachedthousandsofpeople through educational materials, citizen-science outreach, and commercial products. With his legacy, the Lab will be able to continue to inspire public interest and appreciation of birds well into the future.

Jeklin was born in a part of Austria now called Slovenia. He moved to Canada with his wife, Euphemia, after World War II. Jeklin's photography was limited to family snapshots until 1969, when he observed birds from a blind along with a bird-photographer friend. Captivated, Jeklin soon started taking photos of birds.

Why did you get involved in photography?
I became a photographer because I saw a good challenge; I wanted to do something well. I had a lot of patience. I had all the requisites needed to be likely to succeed.

Photo credit: Isidor Jeklin/CLO
Eastern Bluebird. I find this species nesting nearly every year but I cannot resist photographing it again and again.

Which are your favorite photos?
The bluebirds. I have taken pictures of insects, mammals, and even plants. I have almost 800 awards for many subjects, but the bluebird never missed.

Your photos look like they were taken with a flash at very quick speeds. Is that your technique?
It would be impossible to do my photography without the Multiblitz flash. It was built just after World War II. Since it is cumbersome, you must settle down and stay for a week, usually.

It always took me a long time to organize the shot. You always want to have something outstanding. It doesn't work to just aim at something and take lots of pictures. But if you do lots of photography and the bird is nice and the setting is good, then that work will also turn out to be good.

Instead of using 35 mm film, you use a larger format. Why?
Birds are very fast creatures and if you use a 35mm camera then you have a very small area for the bird's image. If that bird is moving, the chances are very good that you won't get anything right.

Do you have any advice for others who might be interested in bird photography?
Yes, but this is actually something that never makes any difference. They don't listen to advice because they have their own minds, habits, and abilities. All these things are good. The most important thing is to have everything working perfectly. Then take a lot of pictures.

Photo credit: Isidor Jeklin/CLO
American Bittern chicks

Photo credit: Isidor Jeklin/CLO
Northern Cardinal


Suggested citation: Griffing, Sean. A Gift of Moments: Isidor Jeklin to donate award-winning photographs. Birdscope, newsletter of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Winter 2003.

For permission to reprint all or part of this article, please contact Miyoko Chu, Editor, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 159 Sapsucker Woods Rd., Ithaca, New York. Phone (607) 254-2451. Email