A pied butcherbird singing in Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory, Australia. © Duade Paton.

This celebration of pied butcherbird songs is a companion to the book Is Birdsong Music? Outback Encounters with an Australian Songbird by Hollis Taylor.  For more information:  


All photographs are © Hollis Taylor unless otherwise noted and are used with permission.

“I don't think birdsong has ever been analysed with such subtlety and, yes, empathy, without losing objectivity. My head's still reeling, but that is a compliment to this unusual and inspiring book.”—Andrew G. Horn, Emu

"Hollis Taylor is someone rare and courageous, a pioneer. No one on earth has ever given themselves so fully to the quest to understand bird song as music. Her book Is Birdsong Music? pursues its question with such intelligence and care that her answer is altogether convincing."—Tim Low, author of Where Song Began

"Hollis Taylor has given us one of the most serious books ever written on animal music. Is Birdsong Music? is so engaging that all who care about humanity's place on Earth should read it. We are certainly not the only musicians on this planet."—David Rothenberg, author of Why Birds Sing

"Thirty years ago, many musicologists wondered if women could compose real music. In the intervening years, we have broadened our sights, including not only women as musical agents but also people who hail from locales outside Western Europe and North America. Hollis Taylor now invites us to consider seriously the creativity manifested by Australian birds, challenging our species-centric concepts of music. A fascinating and persuasive book."—Susan McClary, author of Desire and Pleasure in Seventeenth-Century Music

"Progress in the biology of human music is hampered by the notorious intractability of defining music. In this predicament Hollis Taylor boldly asks how much of what we know of human music can be found in the exquisite vocal artistry of perhaps the foremost bird singer, the pied butcherbird. Her pioneering quest for an answer is heroic and wide-ranging, both physically and intellectually, and she shares it with us in this fascinating book."—Björn Merker, editor of The Origins of Music

"One of the best books ever on birdsong—perhaps the best."—Dominique Lestel, author of L'animal est l'avenir de l'homme

"The beautiful book Hollis Taylor has written about the song of the pied butcherbird shows how fertile and pertinent zoomusicology is. Her important bulk of data and reflection support and enrich the ongoing reappraisal of human culture. We musicians are no longer alone."—François-Bernard Mâche, composer and author of Musique au singulier

"Is Birdsong Music? is an absorbing and delightfully written field diary as much as it is a technical analysis of sound and a philosophical discussion of the concept of music …. Hollis Taylor's book encourages us to recognise the importance and interconnectedness of all species. She challenges the dominant view that humans represent the pinnacle of all life and can act independently of the environment. The cultural connection between species is integral to environmental connection."

—Chris Reid, RealTimeArts

"This, for me, was a revelation: so much careful, vivid observation and description from all over Australia. It shows our bird life to be unique, talented, and above all, surprising. Music to my eyes."—Robyn Williams, The Science Show, ABC-Radio National