Apr 07, 2003
RAY: This puzzler came in from Bill Denlinger--and I didn't have to obfuscate, unclarify, or debogosify it.
Here it is:
"My cousin Bruno put up a bird feeder in his yard. It was nothing fancy, just a flat board, with raised edges--kind of like a shallow cigar box, with the lid removed, so the food wouldn't fall off.
"As Bruno sat in his recliner in the living room, watching the birds come and go, he noticed a peculiar thing. On some days, the birds would all fly into the feeder from the north. On other days, they would fly in from the south, and on some, they seemed to fly in from all directions. The birds weren't tagged and Bruno didn't know anything about them, but they appeared to be the same birds."
TOM: They could have been relatives.
RAY: Maybe. Anyway … "Bruno wondered why the birds didn't fly into the feeder from the same direction, but seemed to have this peculiar behavior.
"He couldn't explain it, until one day he noticed something while he was outside, filling up the feeder.
"And he said, 'Ah ha!'"
What did Bruno discover?
TOM: Was it different days of the week? Maybe one day the birds were coming home from work, and on the weekend they're coming from a day off?
RAY: Hadn't thought of that. Bruno didn't think of it either. He couldn't explain it -- just like us-- until one day he noticed something interesting while he was out filling up the feeder.
TOM: Did it have to do with wind?
RAY: It did. He noticed that the wind was blowing, and just like when you come into a landing at an airport, the birds were doing the same thing. They were flying into the wind. If they flew in with the wind at their backs, they missed the birdfeeder altogether.
TOM: I can see it now. They come down; they trip over the end of the feeder and fall down on the ground!
RAY: Exactly. If the wind is blowing from the north they're flying in from the south. And of course on the days when it isn't windy…
TOM: It doesn't matter. Our winner is Larry Barton from Kettering, Ohio.