Your friends are:
You can meet my small friend at -1.
You can meet my American friend at -2.
You can meet my very rare friend at -3.
One of my friends is quite silly.
One of my friends is very proud.
One of my friends is usually preferred warm, but the opposite is sometimes necessary.
One of my friends sometimes sits, but then bad things happen to him.
The final grid looks like this:
The four kinds of clue, less obscurely described, are:
The extra gimmick is that
Three of them are resolved by
So here are the clues and their solutions. They are marked "1", "2", "R" or "B" with the obvious significance. Indications of who solved each clue are necessarily imprecise since they were discussed in TSL chat ...
Challenge 1: Fit the four yellow birds into the tray, no overlapping. Rotation and reflection are allowed.
Challenge 2: Fit the four yellow birds and the blue piece into the tray, no overlapping. Rotation and reflection are allowed.
Challenge 3: Fit the four yellow birds and the red piece into the tray, no overlapping. Rotation and reflection are allowed.
1. Charley's favorite only needs 3 unique letters
9. Dad's favorite starts the same as Charley's
3. Fred is a big fan of birds
6. Mary's starts with the same letter as Fred's
7. Heather likes mythical creatures
11. Peggy's was swimming in the water
13. Kyle's shares 3 letters with his name
At this point the remaining animals are Aardvark, ...
What a menagerie! I hope you find them all soon! Do you need help putting up posters? Your 17 animals are:
The answers for 1a and 1b can be found by:
The answers for 2a and 2b can be found by:
The answers for 3a and 3b can be found by:
The answers for 4a and 4b can be found by:
My four parts to lap the clay
My four parts are sugarcoated
My two parts looking stars
My two parts are the high minaret
and my one innocent part kill ky bees
Tell me who I am
Hope this is near to your answer.
Edit: huh, it turns out that "Hey, I thought for a second that I recognised him, but I didn't..." is meant to clue us to something similar but not quite the same as what we've just found. So the actual solution is
The answers to the test are:
The bold letters in these answers ...
Beastly Gerbil has found the answers to the test and the link to the last surviving page of the journal, so please give him credit by upvoting his answer.
The conflicts described in the journal are ...
The answers to the test I believe are:
so we finish with:
So now we have to find the next two entries
While I was AFK, @MOehm worked out (upvote his answer too!)
So the next two entries will be
Rotated around, I am still the same,
Reflected about, I am still the same,
In three other birds, you’ll find me each time,
What songbird am I? Last seen a while ago.
This is my message to you-ou-ou.
I hope my initial thoughts for your puzzle are
I hide as a puzzle in Malaysian spoon,
Bounding sturdy monument and sturdy wood.
Upside-down in common marsupials' and rare antelopes' front,
I'm a gesture, or three, for good.
Wrap-up: The Making Of The Baffling Birdcage
This is not a solution to the puzzle, but provides notes from its poser. This type of answer has been approved by the community.
Caution: This post may contain spoilers.
The main inspiration for this puzzle was the fortnightly challenge, obviously!
I wasn't quite sure how to use the 'animal' theme ...