Birds of Paradises

See the elephant, saddled, with a joyful rider?

I feel a little like the lower red bird in this picture: “WTF?” This is definitely the hardest Liberty puzzle I’ve done in my decade of doing them. And in a way, the most fun, because it is so hard. It’s several dozen (feels like a hundred) tiny puzzles in one. I’m grateful to know a little bit about birds of paradises, the many tropical habitats and the myriad birds that inhabit them. I know what a rhea and a cassowary look like, that hornbill species have various styles of keratinous casques on top of their bills, that many wild pheasants resemble their domestic counterparts with more flamboyant colors, that there are several varieties of actual ‘birds of paradise,’ and so on. So matching birds to their names was not as challenging as it might have been. Naturally, I’m using Seymour’s Rule, in which I look well at the box top once, and never again. My strategy for this puzzle has been this:

First, to piece together the main title, ‘Birds of the Tropics.’ After putting together the title three nights ago, my next step was to pull out all pieces with bits of bird names on them, and piecing those together. This puzzle is a compilation of trading cards published c. 1889 for Allen and Ginter cigarettes, by a tobacco company in Richmond, Virginia. This came as a surprise to me when I looked it up. I’m glad I did–it gave me a clue to the Tropic Bird, which has til just now been only a title, widely separated on the table from its swooping white image.

Noticing a lot of reds, I decided to group all pieces with even a speck of red in them, and begin to build birds onto their names red first.

Some of the reds don’t belong to bird cards, but to a few vignettes scattered throughout. It’s taken two days of balancing between concerted focus and intermittent play to get most of the bird cards started, and only a few of them completed. I’ve stalled on the red strategy but not given up on it; meanwhile, I’ve branched out to yellows and dark blues, and am also constantly scanning for particular shapes that stand out. Many of the birds are represented not only by their colorful images, but also by a whimsy piece the shape of the bird.

I’m familiar with the bright fiery hues of tanagers native to the US, so I was searching all the red bits for something to attach to the Paradise Tanager above. I finally decided to ask Siri for help, and he pulled up a pile of images all resembling this adorable bird below. As I added a couple more pieces to the card title, I became perplexed: I don’t see how those brown tail feathers are going to turn into a Paradise Tanager… unless they got it wrong in 1889? But maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. Pleasant surprises are consistently part of the Liberty puzzle experience. I’m grateful for this warm long-lasting pleasure to turn to throughout this cold holiday week.

One thought on “Birds of Paradises

  1. I enjoyed reading about the puzzle and your strategy. I can tell it’s going to be spectacular when completed and give you many hours of joy in the meantime 😊

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