08.05.07 -- BIRDS

The Twittering Machine [Die Zwitscher-Maschine]. Paul Klee, 1922
Sunday, August 5, 2007
WINGING IT -- Puzzle by Caroline Leong, edited by Will Shortz
A gathering of Florence Nightingale, Steve Martin, Atticus Finch, Christopher Wren, Merlin, and Captain Jack Sparrow certainly belies “birds of a feather flock together” -- and their bird-verb activities are of an odd sort in this Sunday crossword puzzle which is all in good fun!
NIGHTINGALEHAWKSLARKS (23A Nurse Florence sells adventures?)
MARTINPARROTSCOOTS (31A Actor Steve repeats what geezers say?)
FINCHDUCKSCUCKOOS (57A Lawyer Atticus avoids crazies?)
WRENSWALLOWSRAILS (69A Architect Christopher gobbles banisters?)
MERLINROOKSBOOBIES (93A Famed magician cheats chumps?)
SPARROWGULLSCARDINALS (106A Disney’s Captain Jack dupes church leaders?)
This puzzle's aviary also cages in its grid a nightingale, larks, martins, coots, a finch, cuckoos, a wren, rails, a merlin, boobies, a sparrow, and cardinals.
Birds as verbs are "hawks", "parrots", "ducks", "swallows", "rooks", and "gulls" -- with only "parrots" taking its meaning from the action of a bird -- "Polly want a cracker?!"
IGNIS fatuus (63A) and GHOST (64A Word game popularized by James Thurber) occupy the center of the grid whose dead center is a black square. Other notable entries include the side-by-side ICE and ICH; and the distant ACE and ACS; GIA and GAO: LANA and SANA; SHAH and SHAD; SASS and SISSY; Faulkner femme fatale EULA Varner (73D) and EULER [98D Mathematician who introduced the function symbol f(x)] who is having a good week in puzzledom!
GRIME clued as Smutch (45A) is a fresh (can it be called that?) twist in definition; BIGEATER (7D Gourmand) and PIGGED (56A Overate, with "out"); and nice to see Rapa NUI (Easter Island) (105A) and LOKI (80D Norse deity of mischief) on the haunt. Even though ARBORDAY (37A Annual event celebrated outdoors) is included, a habitat for birds is provided only by SYCAMORES (75D Graceful trees) -- "Fly, fly, fly...fly, fly, fly...fly, fly, fly!!!
The New York Times Crossword Puzzle solution above is by the author of this blog and does not guarantee accuracy. If you find errors or omissions, you are more than welcome to make note of same in the Comments section of this post -- any corrections found necessary will be executed promptly upon verification.
Puzzle available on the internet at
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