Uncollected Works
INTRODUCTION to Mateship with Birds by A.H. Chisholm

Its is many years since I first heard of the fame of Mr. A. H. Chisholm, who has honored me with a request to write a preface for his book on birds. I say "honored" because he might easily have found a man capable of writing a worthier preface than mineto such a worthy book. I value the compliment the more, because it was mainly through the writings Mr. Chisholm that I began to take an interest in Australian birds, discovering a new pleasure, and always endure.

Many books have now been written about Australian birds. I suppose nearly all these books are chiefly of interest to the scientist, who delights in naming a live bird in a dead language. But, by the layman amongst bird lovers - whose interest is no less keen because non-scientific - such a book as Mateship with Birds will be most heartily welcomed.

Although, in regard to the scientific aspect, Mr. Chisholm generally regarded as one of the foremost authorities upon birds in Australia, he is not content with mere classification and tabulation. This book of his has been, in a sense, an inspiration. Not only will it be of great interest to the bird lover and the bird observer, but many a man who hitherto has taken little interest in such things will find here new inteerst and fresh delights. Even he, whose only acquaintance with birds has been amongst sparrows of city streets, and an occasional pigeon or blackbird, will discover unexpected entertainment.

The title is a particularly happy one, for it indicates the author's fraternal attitude and methods. Many a learned savant shoots birds with a gun and writes about them as a pedant. Mr. Chisholm shoots them with a camera and writes about them as a human being.

The title reminds me of a certain good mate of mine - a grey thrush who came to me regularly each morning for his breakfast. He ate confidently from my hand, and, having eaten, piped a song of thanksgiving. His name was "George." A prowling cat got him in the end. A book upon "Mateship with Cats" would earn my hearty disapproval.

It is a good thing that Australians, during recent years, have taken a vastly increased interest both in the flora and in the birds of their native land. So far as the birds are concerned, this book will do much to stimulate that interest. Here is a human story, and an entertaining story, written by one who has an accurate knowledge of his subject.

For these reasons, and for the sake of our mates the birds, it is recommended not alone to bird lovers, but to every Australian who has taken an interest in birds. And how many among us have listened to the mellow fluting of the grey thrush at eve, or the wild, free piping of magpies at morn, and have remained unmoved.

("The Sentimental Bloke").

First edition, 1922

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002