Matthew Halley

Matthew Halley


Field ornithologist and music teacher Matthew Halley presents Bird Songs, an enchanting collection of original music celebrating our connection to the birds with deep roots in the American folk and bluegrass tradition!


The artistic culmination of thousands of hours in the wilderness, studying avian behavior in 7 countries (USA, Panama, Venezuela, Israel, Canada, Indonesia, Egypt), Bird Songs will plaster a smile on your face. An accomplished multi-instrumentalist and songwriter, Halley teaches music in Philadelphia and performs on banjo, guitar, fiddle, piano and voice. With songs in the musical vein of John Hartford, Matt hopes to accomplish for birds what Hartford managed for steamboats :)

Matt’s greatest influence is to be found in nature: the subtle song of the thrush, rolling river currents, a breeze across blades of grass. His experiences living in the wilderness have seeped through his music, shaping his lyrical themes and tone; his songs are easy to relate to, sorting out the boundaries between man and nature - exploring a tumultuous sea of human emotions while still leaving room to smile and laugh.

“… a joyous romp through eternal spring. You can't help but feel young, in love, and capable of anything, perhaps even changing the world.” Timothy Dougherty, Songwriter

“…an outstanding collection of field notes. It speaks for the biologists and nature lovers in us…listening to nature and discovering beauty…I'll listen to this CD for many more years.” – Ghislain Rhomprey, Ph.D., Oregon State University

"super-earnest folk…play! Play! Play!" -KALX, Berkeley, CA


Birder's National Anthem

Written By: Matthew Halley

I started keeping a list a couple years ago
Just to try and keep it straight
It wasn’t a list of impossible promises
Or goals that I’d never quite make
This list is all about taking it easy
Relax and take a breath or two
‘cause it’s a list of all the little birds I’ve seen
let me tell you that I’ve seen a few

I’ve seen the Great Tinamou and the Little Tinamou
And I’ve also seen the Common Loon
The Western and the Little and the Pied-billed Grebes
Anhinga anhinga too!
Phalocrocorax penecillatus, Phalocrocorax brazilianus, Phalocrocorax eurythrorynchos
And the list goes on and on!

Red-throated, Yellow-headed Caracara
Laughing, Merlin, Peregrine, Bat
The Hobby, Prairie, American Kestrel,
The Lesser and the European Kestrel!
Griffon, King, Black, Turkey Vultures,
Great Horned Barred Owl hootin’ in the Barn
Eastern, Western, European Scops Owls
Long-eared Bubo Bubo hunting in the dawn
Yellow-billed Cuckoo and a Groove-billed Ani
The Greater Roadrunner and a Crested Guan
Saw a Grey-headed Chachalaca and an Osprey
Rufous Mot-mot and Violaceous Trogon
Lattice-tailed, Slaty-tailed, Rufous-tailed Jacamar
White-necked and White-whiskered Puffbirds! Woo!
Long-billed Curlew and a Willet and a Whimbrel
Green, Spotted Sandpiper! American Coot!

This is a list that I’ll be keeping everyday!
One look in my binoculars and I’m swept away
Some days I really wish that I could fly
But since I can’t, I guess this list will help me to pass the time

White-tailed, Swallow-tailed, Mississippi Kite
Red-tailed, Broad-winged, Swainson’s and White
Sharp-shinned, Goshawk, Cooper’s and Grey
I thought I saw a Tiny Hawk flying away
Bald Eagle, Golden and the Booted too!
Greater and Lesser Spotted Eagles – it’s true!
I’ve seen the White-tailed Eagle and Imperial soar
Palid Harrier, Hen Harrier scanning the floor
I added the Marsh Harrier to the list
let me tell you that I’ll never forget that day
Oh - And before I carried away, I better mention the Northern Harrier here in the USA
The Greater White-fronted, Canadian Goose
Canvasback, Gadwall lettin’ it loose
Wood Duck, Blue-winged, Green-winged Teal
A Mallard and a Black Duck enjoying a meal
Tricolored Heron, Squacco and Purple
Glossy, White-faced Ibises wading in a circle
The American Bittern was heaven-sent
And that frigatebird was magnificent
Great Blue, Little Blue, Great Grey, Green,
Great, Snowy, Little, Cattle Egrets on the scene
Black-crowned, Yellow-crowned flying at night
Rufescent, Fasciated Tiger-herons in flight
Northern Pintail and Northern Shoveler,
Ruddy Shelduck, Common, Hooded Merganser
Mute Swan, Tundra Swan, Bufflehead, Brant
Say that 20 times fast – I bet you can’t!!! *chorus*

Well down in Panama I got a case of dysentery
And some of those days got a little hairy
But I’ve no regrets, no I’m not sorry
Cause I got to see the Collared Aracari
Chesnut-mandibled and the Keel-billed Toucans
“Kee-a-LA!! Kee-a-LA!!�, is what I heard
Deep in the jungle at an army ant swarm
I got a glimpse of Bicolored and the Spotted Antbird
The Masked Tityra, Black-crowned Tityra
Snowy Cotinga, Purple-throated Fruitcrow!
Kyle and I may have seen the Lovely Cotinga,
But the details were fuzzy so we’ll never know!

Lewis’, Red-bellied, Red-headed, Acorn,
Lineated, Pileated drumming away
A Syrian flew by my head in Jerusalem
And a White-headed down in Californ-I-A
Red-naped, Red-breasted, Yellow-bellied, Downy, Hairy,
Northern Flicker – Red and Yellow shafted, oooo man!
Eastern and a Western and a Tropical Kingbird,
Held a Northern Bentbill in my hand!
Eastern and Western and Tropical Peewees,
Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Rose-throated Becard,
Alder and a Willow, Gray, Hammond’s and a Dusky
Identifying Flycatchers sure is hard
Kingfishers – I’ve seen Belted, Ringed and Green,
Seen the Amazon hover and dive into a stream,
Pied and European, White-breasted too
And the American Dipper – Woop dee doo
Horned Lark, Desert Lark, Crested and a Skylark,
Black-throated, Grasshopper – Tic tac tizeeee!
White-crowned, Golden-crowned, White-throated, Lark Sparrow,
Brewer’s, Sage, Vesper and American Tree
Field and Fox and Swamp and Song
Savannah and Chipping – it goes on and on
And if you needed a reminder to “Drink your tea!�
You’ve got the Green-tailed, Eastern and the Spotted Towhee

Let’s not forget the family Corvidae
Clark’s Nutcracker and the Stellar’s Jay
Florida and Island, Western, Gray and Blue
The Yellow-billed Magpie and the Black-billed too
Brown-necked, Common and a Fan-tailed Raven
Northwestern, American – CAAAA CAAAA
Hooded Crow, Fish Crow – AH AH AH AH
And the Brown Jay down in Panama
Gray Catbird, Crissal, Brown, Sage Thrasher
White wing patches – that’s a Northern Mockingbird
Red-capped, White-collared, Yellow-collared Manakins
This list is starting to get absurd
I saw

Lows Lake

Written By: Matthew Halley

Way up north where the weather’s fine
Where black bears roam and eagles fly
Push your canoe into the water
Grab a beer and drop a line

Far away from the city noise
Where life is easy and the fishing’s great
Mother Nature is a painter
She scattered her brush into hundreds of lakes

Oh! Leave your troubles behind
Feel that catfish tugging at your fishing line
Up in the land of the Sugar Maples and the Pine
If you want to relax, there ain’t no better time

Grab your guitar and grab your banjo
Sit by the fire and strum a tune
Hear the chorus harmonizing
With the wailing of the loon

What we got cooking on the fire tonight?
Been paddling all day and my arms are sore
I’m going out tonight for some catfish hunting
I’m gonna catch some fish so we can eat some more

Up in the hills of New York State
On the crystal-clear waters of Lows Lake
Push your canoe into the water
Come on my friend – don’t hesitate!

Gypsy Dancer (What I Need!)

Written By: Matthew Halley

Gypsy Dancer
Are you feeling what I’m feeling?
Shhh – don’t answer
Take some time and think it through
But I would take the chance if I were you

Gypsy Dancer
Brilliant goddess of the fire
Time destroyer
I will show you what’s inside

Tear me down, Make me bleed, Rip me apart
What I need is a fresh start!

I’ll surrender all control
Age-old wisdom
From the garden of good and evil

Tear me down, Make me bleed, Rip me apart
What I need is a fresh start!


Bird Songs - released late 2008.

Set List


The Susquehanna River
Birder's National Anthem
Backyard Birdin'
The Sagebrush Song
Brewer's Sparrow (LBB)
The Rainforest Song
Black-throated Blues
World Traveler
Gypsy Dancer (What I Need)
Vasudeva (the song of everything)
So Inspiring!
Narcissus and Goldmund
From The Stone
Now is One (Once was Two)
Down on the Bank

Matt performs sets of original music with occasional covers, typically between 30 minutes and 1.5 hours.


It Makes No Difference (the Band)
Isis (Bob Dylan)
Various John Hartford tunes