In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm milk. Add the butter, brown sugar, 2 eggs, salt and 2 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 16 pieces. Roll each into a 12-in. rope; tie each into a knot.
To form birds' head, tuck one end back into knots. With a sharp knife or scissors, cut two slits on opposite end to form tail feathers. Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Beat egg with water; brush over dough. Bake at 350° for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Insert an almond into each for beak. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.