Birds (MIT Mystery Hunt 2020)

MIT Mystery Hunt 2020
Balloon Vendor
Author(s)Benjamin L de Bivort and Jay Strader
AnswerClick to revealDIRGES
No. solves37
No. total guesses190

Birds is an image identification puzzle from the Balloon Vendor round of the 2020 MIT Mystery Hunt.

Puzzle Elements[edit | edit source]

Image-Heavy - The whole puzzle is one image, though it could be better described as multiple images of birds.

Flavortext - In an open park, you see the balloon seller. They are surrounded by birds singing mellowly.


Identification (Zoology/Ornithology) - One must identify the bird images; the images are drawn from Audubon's Guide to North American Birds, which can be used as a source. (One of the birds, the Acadian Flycatcher, has a small Acadian flag, presumably to distinguish it from the highly-similarly-colored Cordilleran Flycatcher.)

Enumerations - The first set of numbers also enumerates the bird's binomial name...

Indexing - ...which can then be indexed into using the number in parentheses.

Keep Going! - The phrase obtained this way is "SOUTH BAY BIRD MNEMONIC PAGE", bringing solvers to this page. All birds in the puzzle are also in here.

Indexing - Each bird has a number of mnemonics composed of a number of syllables. The number before the colon indicates which mnemonic to draw a syllable from; the number after the colon indicates which syllable to take. The aforementioned Acadian Flycatcher, for example, has three mnemonics; take the second, "peet-suh", and extract its second syllable.

Sound It Out - The syllables can be sounded out into English words, using the spaces between groups of speech bubbles as word breaks and the white circles as syllable breaks.

Final Clue Phrase - The resulting phrase is LAMENTING VERSES PLAYED DURING A FUNERAL PROCESSION, which clues the final answer.