Alison's Fishing Birds

Roderick L. Haig-Brown

Illustrated by Sheryl McDougald

First published as a limited edition in 1980 by Colophon Books, Alison’s Fishing Birds by BC’s acclaimed author and conservationist Roderick Haig-Brown is the story of a young girl’s encounter with some of BC’s most intriguing river birds. Alison’s favourite bird, the Dipper, lives along the river by her house. She spends many hours watching the “fierce and splendid” bird as it fishes for dinner, “bog, bob, bobbing” as it skitters and dives below the surface, always emerging with a tiny fish. Farther up the river bank, Alison catches a glimpse of the Belted Kingfisher hovering above the water, just waiting patiently for the perfect moment to “drop like a stone, headfirst into the water” only to emerge a few seconds later with a tiny wiggling silver fish in its beak. Alison encounters many other birds on her adventures and, true to Haig-Brown’s other stories, every bird, whether it is the Osprey, the Heron, or the Merganser, all have a lesson to share about their life and the natural world around them.

For almost a century, Haig-Brown has been teaching children and adults alike to explore, learn, and respect our forests, oceans, and rivers. As one of Haig-Brown’s lesser-known stories, Alison’s Fishing Birds is a gem that is long overdue on the shelves of popular children’s fiction.

Alison’s Fishing Birds is richly illustrated by acclaimed and talented artist Sheryl McDougald, and includes a preface by Valerie Haig-Brown.

“… Of the rather short list of such pieces—in all my reading, really—Alison’s Fishing Birds was my personal high point. I had never read it before (though possibly it was read to me) and I could not help being thoroughly charmed, both as an editor and a daughter.”
— Preface by Valerie Haig-Brown, editor

“Any engagement with wildlife—whether listening to the chatter of river otters, hunting grouse or watching a black bear denude an apple tree—restored human meaning and brought us back to the point of things: there is no end to wonder and joy when you care about a place. Alison’s Fishing Birds passes that joy onto another generation”
— Foreword by Andrew Nikiforuk, award-winning journalist and author