Okay, so this is a throwback puzzle to this previous PHCMU hunt.
Each section will reference a puzzle from that hunt and probably extract
a letter or something, and together they'll spell the answer. So
let's go to the hunt archive and-
Oh. Bird Hunt 2 doesn't exist.
Guess there's nothing to do but to solve these puzzles individually,
guessing at the extraction for each section:
- Looking up these objects together returns that they
are the components for the Pepperup Potion from Harry Potter.
This seems like a pretty reasonable answer, so we index  into
PEPPERUP to yield a E.
- These are the notes for The Star-Spangled Banner. However,
one of the notes in the third line is missing. Including that
missing note, the four lines presented have number of notes
3, 4, 8, and 6, matching the enumeration of THE STAR SPANGLED BANNER.
Therefore, the missing note corresponds to a G.
- This is a text adventure, but the only actions available are
moving in the four cardinal directions. Mapping out the locations
that can be visited, they form a capital I.
- These are chamber info icons from the game Portal. Looking through
the game, we can find that this is exactly the set of icons for
Chamber 14, which alphanumerically corresponds to an N.
- This is a rebus. We can solve it as follows: RINGO + PROTOSS - PR - O.
The resulting string is RINGOTOSS, which is suspiciously RING TOSS plus an O.
From here, it's not hard to imagine that the "original" puzzle involved
additional letters inside other words or things, so the extracted letter is O.
- This is a program in Brainf*ck, but three of the characters in the string
have been replaced by ?s. You can make the assumption that loops start
and end at the same location, and in addition, there has to be one closing bracket
since out of the known characters there's an unpaired opening bracket. The three
missing characters are >, ], and >, which forms a BF program that prints
the letter O. (The program calculates 8*10-1 and prints the ASCII
letter with value 79.)
- This seems to be a historical fact, but these two events did not actually
occur in the same year; they occurred in 1939 and 1954 respectively. The events
are 15 years off, which alphanumerically corresponds to an O.
- In this subpuzzle, the spacing of the words is very suspicious; there are two
spaces between some of the words instead of one. The text mentions Francis Bacon,
who created the Bacon cipher, an encoding method similar to binary. Under the
Bacon cipher, the string ABBBA (one space is A, two spaces is B) is a P.
- This is an anaquote, which means we need to find an ordering of the trigrams
(ending with the one singular character) that spells a reasonable message with
the given enumeration. Through trial and error, the message can be determined:
PESTILENCE, WHAT, FAMINE, AND DEATH. The answer is WAR, a reference to the Four
Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and we extract the third letter, which is an R.
- This is a word search, but we're not told what the words are. Some words are easily
visible in the grid (e.g. MEDAL), and after getting more, we can observe that all of
the words can be paired with the word "gold" to make a phrase. The words in the search are
MEDAL, RUSH, INGOT, NUGGET, FOOL'S, MINE, LEAF. Afterwards, the remaining letters
in the grid spell out the word SULFUR, which has the chemical symbol of S.
- These are two crossword-style clues. The first one is the word GETTING and the second
is the word STING. These two words share a lot of letters in common; to form the second,
you replace the trigram GET with the letter S. Since we're trying to
extract a single letter, we can assume that the extracted letter in
this subpuzzle is therefore S.
- This is a set of five cryptic clues. Their solutions are as follows:
From these five answers, four of them are various letters of the NATO alphabet,
but TEE isn't from the NATO alphabet. We can guess that the answer is
the letter T.
- Airline hidden in model tank (5):
This is a hidden word clue. The answer, DELTA, is hidden in moDEL TAnk.
- The Spanish, after high temperature, make a place to stay (5):
"The" in Spanish is EL, and high temperature means HOT. Putting EL
after HOT yields HOTEL, which could be "a place to stay".
- Tragic lover in Italy's capital with an egg (5):
Italy's capital is ROME, and an egg looks like the letter O.
Put these together to get ROMEO, a famous tragic lover.
- Peg in golf is odd there (3):
"odd there" clues to take the odd letters of the word THERE, which makes TEE.
A tee is a peg in golf.
- Man who wrote Les Mis is a winner (6):
This is a double definition. The writer of Les Mis was
VICTOR Hugo, and a VICTOR is a winner.
These letters are in alphabetical order, which implies that we should find
another way to sort them, in addition to helping with confirmation of the
Since the puzzle theme references PHCMU, we should look at the PHCMU website.
Bird Hunt (1), also known as Ornithology Hunt, was run in Fall 2014, and is not available
on the website. However, since then, there have been 15 hunts, with names that have many
similarities to the subpuzzles in this puzzle.
Each subpuzzle's theme corresponds to the theme of one of the first 12 hunts
that occurred after Bird Hunt 1, so this provides a chronological sorting order.
|Bacon on spaces
||Puzzlehunt: The Musical!
|Harry Potter potion
||Harry Potter and The Hunt of Puzzles
|Rebus to RINGOTOSS
||Aperture Science Student Testing Initiative
|Anaquote to Four Horsemen
|History, years off
||Time Travel Hunt
|"Gold" word search
||The Quest for the Dragon's Riches
|Odd cryptic clue out
|GETTING -> STING
Therefore, the final answer is PIGEON ROOSTS
Bird Hunt 3 has been an internal meme within PHCMU for many years,
and I felt this was a fun way to make it into a puzzle. The other
inspiration was seeing some throwback puzzles have minipuzzles that
were pretty much solvable by just guessing the mechanic of the initial
puzzle, so I wanted to try this solution to the problem that throwback
puzzles tend to require you to spoil yourself on existing puzzles:
The original puzzles never actually existed in the first place.
During testing, every solving team got the Musical subpuzzle's letter
by noting that the missing note was a G and ignoring the line breaks.
This was entirely a lucky coincidence, but I'm not complaining.