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Ninety years on, A.H. Chisholm's classic Mateship with Birds is still as fresh and inspirational as an early-morning walk in the bush, the air resounding with birdsong. His account of the secret lives of birds – their seasonal doings and their complex relationships – reflects his patient and detailed observations, and his deep enjoyment of the Australian bush and all its inhabitants.
This is not just a book for bird-lovers. Chisholm's charming and often humorous prose reveals a man who loves words as well as birds. His style of writing and the historical photographs accompanying his text provide a gentle record of a period that already feels like 'the old days'.
But Chisholm wrote with an urgent message to the future. He could clearly see the threat that 'the moving finger of Civilisation' posed to birdlife, and his account of the tragic demise of the Paradise Parrot ends with this passionate exhortation: 'What are the bird-lovers of Australia going to do about this matter of vanishing Parrots? Surely it is a subject worthy of the closest attention of all good Australians.'
With the reissuing of Mateship with birds, we honour these words, and offer his delight in 'the loveliest and the best of Nature's children' to a new generation.
A.H. (Alexander Hugh) Chisholm was born in Maryborough, Victoria in 1890 and worked on the Maryborough Advertiser before moving to Brisbane to work on the Daily Mail, and subsequently to Melbourne to edit the Argus. Chisholm worked with C. J. Dennis and published his major work The Making of the Sentimental Bloke in 1946.
C.J. Dennis wrote the Introduction to Mateship with Birds and Chisholm later died in 1977.
"Mateship with Birds [...] was the bible for birdwatchers before we became 'birders' [...] [it] has been out of print for too long and Scribe is to be congratulated for producing this new edition [...] If you take the time to live with this classic bird book, it will enrich your life."
- Robert Adamson, Weekend Australian
"A must-read book for all Australians, all bird lovers, and all who enjoy luxurious prose and sumptuous storytelling."
- The Guardian
"The book's subject and chief lesson is the author's own apparently boundless enthusiasm, a passion that aims by mesmerical music and poetic suggestion to beguile readers from their city enclaves toward the promised arcadia of up-country open spaces. It is primarily because of this wonder of music and poetry that Mateship with Birds is now being republished. It is a worthy choice [...] Chisholm's lyricising imagination is fatigueless throughout [...] without doubt a book deserving its place in the new catalogue of revived Australian classics."
- Andrew Fuhrmann, Australian Book Review