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What is evolution but the result of countless mutations to genetic structures over time. Some mutations provide benefits such as the gift of flight, while others can be harmful, such as the burden of allergies. Birds are a beautiful result of evolution in my opinion, and there are plenty here today for you to work with. The following box contains eight constantly mutating birds:

Screenshot of the puzzle's grid.

Additionally, there is a single bird that is not mutating. Your goal is simple, discover the hidden bird.

How to Play

Replace each bird with one letter from an alias of your choosing; take the chicken for example. One player might use the word chicken and take the letter c, while another player could decide to use the word broiler (a breed of chicken) to secure the letter b. Both are perfectly acceptable, but once the letter is chosen, that box is locked to that letter and can no longer be changed.

Limitations: The chosen word must be immediately relatable to the image and must be a species or word for the image. Taking the chicken square for an example, you could use chicken, hen, rooster, broiler, silkie, etc. However, slang, additional definitions, and body parts are not allowed. For example, you can't use gizzard or coward.

Danger

As I said before, mutations can be dangerous. With each bird you secure, the opposing bird will lose its first three odd indexed letters. Take the owl for example, you secure the owl with the letter w. As a result, the opposing duck loses the characters dc (assuming you choose to use the word duck; if you choose to use mallard instead, you'd lose mla).

Opposing Square Relationships

For simplicity, the following squares impact each other in the aforementioned manner:

SWAN/TURKEY
DODO/FLAMINGO
PEACOCK/CHICKEN
OWL/DUCK

However, relationships can change, if the natural relationship is locked. For example, if you've locked the SWAN square, the turkey's relationship changes:

TURKEY/FLAMINGO/DODO

Important! There's added danger in this scenario in that modifying any of the three birds in that relationship will impact the remaining two.

Note: As pointed out in a comment, once the squares in a relationship are locked, they’re no longer impacted by mutations, outside of the central square described below.

The Central Square

The central square is a special mutation in that you can use it to choose any letter from the alphabet to replace it with. However, it must be used before the 4th square is secured, and, it removes the first letter from every square, regardless of state. For example, if the owl square has already been secured as w prior to using the central mutation, then the owl square will become empty, effectively invalidating the answer.

One Power Mutation

One additional mutation can be used to your advantage, at any point to retain two letters in a single square. They can be any two letters, so long as they remain in their original order. For example, using the peacock square, you could secure pc but not cp.

Note: You cannot use this extra mutation to revive dead cells or add to locked ones. Additionally, this mutation still impacts opposing squares.

Final Notes

The answer is a single , nine characters long, and is a species of bird.

Hints

The bird you seek is native to Hawaii.

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  • $\begingroup$ A really short and simple puzzle... Nope nevermind its harder than i thought :) $\endgroup$
    – Stevo
    Sep 18 at 0:56
  • $\begingroup$ What happens when for example, swan is locked. then turkey is locked, and then dodo. What happens to flamingo? so if we lock flamingo nothing happens to the 3 locked squares right? $\endgroup$
    – Stevo
    Sep 18 at 1:49
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EDIT NO 2 Just realised this is the wrong answer. I had confused the middle square rule to the normal rule for removing only the first letter to the odd numbered letters. Sorry for that. If I get it again I will post another answer.

I have a feeling the bird hidden in the square is:

an albatross

Reasoning ( please be aware that I worked backwards):

First:

She said its a 9 letter bird. The only 9 letter bird I know is an albatross. Well, lets try that out!

Now, we start with the way of solving this:

We need to figure out which animal goes to which letter. Chicken must be Rooster to get the second S, and Gobbler to get the B. The T will be gotten by the middle square 'mutation'.

BUT

Why gobbler? Why not Turkey by itself? Well, thats because we see that the 't' is at the start, like swan. We can't do both because then both will be gone, and we only have one additional mutation to bring only one back. We can't do one because either way they will be removed and we can't get it back. Swan can't be anything else, so Turkey must be turned into Gobbler.

Now with that we get going:

We start by putting Peacock in A, Owl in L, Gobbler in B, Flamingo A T with central square, R with Mallard, O with Dodo, S with Rooster and S with Swan.

Firstly,

We need to get Swan to S, later using our other Mutation to make it back to S. That means Gobbler is now obe. Everything else stays the same.

Next,

We get the mysterious middle square mutation, to get T. This brings everything to:

A -------- L -- B---- A --- T - R --- O ----- S --- S

eacock, ow, be, lamingo, T, allard, odo, ooster , -

Now:

We get the S on rooster, making Eacock into aok.

Next,

We get the A from aok, making wl to l and allard to llard.

Then,

We get the L from owl, making llard to lard.

Now,

We finally make be to B, making lamingo to amingo and odo to do.

Then,

We get amingo to A, making do to o.

Now,

o becomes O, and now there's nothing to remove the first letter with apart from swan, in which we haven't revived. YET.

We finally revive swan to sw, and make it S. Of course, there's nothing to take the first letter away from.

Finally,

We get lard and make it R.

There we go!

( if it was unclear, i will post an image describing this)

EDIT

Heres an image of what I just described:

enter image description here

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  • $\begingroup$ Great answer but no as your edit entails. The problem here is with the revival of letters. You can retain two letters from an active square, but not revive two letters from a locked or empty one. I’ll edit my post to make that clear. +1 $\endgroup$ Sep 18 at 11:53

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