Here’s where you can see more than 500 birds on display

An exhibit showing various birds of prey is in the John M. Edson Hall of Birds at The Whatcom Museum at Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., Bellingham.
An exhibit showing various birds of prey is in the John M. Edson Hall of Birds at The Whatcom Museum at Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., Bellingham. eabell@bhamherald.com

One of Whatcom County’s most popular family destinations is the John M. Edson Hall of Birds at the Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall.

To learn a bit more about it, we asked Christina Claassen, marketing and public relations manager for Whatcom Museum, for some insight and details.

What is the John M. Edson Hall of Birds?

“It is an exhibit showcasing the museum’s founding collection of mounted birds, which numbers more than 500 birds. With the help of the North Cascades Audubon Society, the exhibit provides opportunities to learn about bird migration, conservation, Pacific Flyway zones, and the importance of studying bird specimens today, through interpretive panels, laminated information cards and audio/visual components.”

What is the most popular feature of the hall?

“Visitors enjoy using our laminated cards to find and identify birds in the cases. The cards have silhouettes of the birds, so often families will turn it into a fun matching game. Many people enjoy listening to the various bird sounds in our audio exhibits as well.”

Is it open to the public?

Old City Hall is open Wednesdays through Sundays, noon-5 p.m. Admission is $10 general; $8 youth (6-17)/students/seniors/military; $5 children 2-5 years old; under 2 free. Admission gives entry to both Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St., and the Lightcatcher building, 250 Flora St.

We understand it’s a rite of passage for schoolchildren? Why?

“Our bird collection use to live in the Syre Education Center, which is the historic firehouse building beside Old City Hall. That building has been the home of our school programs, primarily the “People of the Sea and Cedar” native culture program, and often students would see the birds in glass cases when visiting. We offered school tours of the bird exhibit (and continue to do so now that it has moved to Old City Hall), so many schoolchildren saw the bird collection. One of the exciting aspects of having the exhibit at Old City Hall, aside from more accessibility to the general public, is that the exhibit includes interpretation and learning components, rather than just artifacts to look at in a glass case. We have updated our school tour curriculum to reflect the new exhibit and its components.”

Who visits the exhibit?

“Most of our visitors are from Bellingham or Whatcom County, but we do get a variety of visitors from all over the country, and sometimes the world. About 30 percent of our visitors come from 60 miles or further away. Our hope this coming fall and winter is to promote the Hall of Birds more widely to bird enthusiasts, and among regional Audubon chapters.”