More than 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.'
In the reissuing of this book, with a new foreword by Sean Dooley, we honour these words, and offer his delight in 'the loveliest and the best of Nature's children' to a new generation. 'It is time we gave over the self-centred idea that the spread of settlement necessarily means the extermination or serious decimation of the shyer native birds. It is time, too, that a national endeavour was made to save the residuum of certain fine Australian birds that are trembling on the verge of nothingness.' A. H. Chisholm