Visitors can examine bird specimens at the Burke Museum’s annual “Birds at the Burke” family event. (Photo by Rachel Crick Photography)

Learn about the avian world at Burke Museum’s bird event

Seattle Seahawks fans, here’s your chance to meet Taima the Hawk, the official Seahawk of the team.

Bird-related activities at the “Birds at the Burke” event on Oct. 8 include a 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. window of opportunity to have your photograph taken with Taima.

But just for the record, there are no seahawks, or even sea hawks. And Taima is not an osprey, either. She is a captive-bred augur hawk, a species that does not live in Seahawk territory, or in any state in which the ‘Hawks play, but in arid mountain regions of Africa.

Birds at the Burke runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., allowing plenty of time for a photograph, two other scheduled events, and having a hands-on moment with beautiful wings from the Burke’s spread-wing collection, the largest collection of its kind in the world.

It’s a chance to learn about hummingbird migration; become acquainted with neighborhood birds through hundreds of bird specimens, nests and eggs; see remarkable California condor specimens; learn about marbled murrelets and their conservation needs; and examine extinct bird specimens.

The birds, nests and eggs theme reminded me of two books on my shelves that I have protected from leaving the house during rare moments of triaging.

Maryjo Koch’s beautiful watercolors and handwritten text in “Bird Egg Feather Nest” combine for a wonderful presentation, and much can be shared with young readers. Three authors/photographers collaborated to create “Egg &Nest,” a more traditional science-oriented presentation.

It’s rare to find a nest with eggs (don’t touch, move away: your presence is already freaking out mama), so “Egg &Nest” is the best source for large color photographs of bird eggs. Eggs of the red-wing blackbird are the stars of several pages, eggs that appear to be the result of an artistic calligrapher’s work.

But the scrawls, lines, dots and colors are caused by pigments that are secreted by the female before she lays an egg. That, combined with the shell color, makes each bird egg as different as a human fingerprint, according to researchers.

Different species have different nest styles. Some birds simply lay eggs on the ground, or high on a more-or-less level shelf on a cliff. Others follow complicated designs with specific materials, some so involved that we can marvel about how a beak and two feet can finish the task.

A barn swallow creates a bowl of mud pellets and grass lined with feathers; both sexes may make 1,000 trips to complete the construction. An oriole weaves a nest that hangs like a Christmas stocking, sometimes incorporating human-made materials.

A kingfisher excavates a tunnel in a bank; other birds might place their nests on artificial objects, such as a bridge, a pile of ropes, under a roof overhang of a home or barn, or high up in a snag.

The Birds at the Burke event is a chance to see the birds, eggs and nests at a distance usually reserved for ornithologists.

Also on the Birds at the Burke schedule, experienced birders from Puget Sound Bird Observatory and Seattle Audubon Society will offer tips on finding and identifying birds.

Author and photographer Paul Bannick will discuss the genesis of his new book, “OWL: A Year in the Lives of North American Owls.” He’ll have photographs and videos, and talk about owls as well as how he found his owls and tailored a narrative to complement the photographs.

Bannick speaks at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Bird Jeopardy will start at noon and 2:30 p.m. to test your birding knowledge.

Burke Museum is the oldest public museum in Washington. It is located on the University of Washington campus, at the corner of NE 45th Street and 17th Avenue NE. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and until 8 p.m. on first Thursdays.

The Birds at the Burke event comes with the admission price of $10 general, $8 senior, $7.50 student/youth. Admission is free to children 4 and under. UW parking fees are $3 an hour on weekdays, $5 flat rate until noon on Saturdays, free Saturday afternoons and Sundays.

For more information, call 206-543-5590.

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