Solution: META: Finding Friends
Written by kt3 and lydian
Keen solvers will realize, between their answers and the flavor text, that all feeders have a “hidden bird” inside them:
Putting these answers into the blanks, there's only one unique way to fill in the blanks so that the bird hidden words occupy the gray squares. Doing so and reading off the numbered letters spells out the answer: TWEETING.
When the idea of doing a round one came up, my first instinct was to think of Dippy. Dippy is a phoenix, a firebird, and the round two meta explored the “fire” aspect of Dippy, so surely, the round one meta should explore the bird aspect. (this is dragon erasure ;_; —beta)
I thought hiding birds within other words would be a pretty nice idea for this first meta, and BOTSWANA immediately came to mind, so after that, me and kt3 spent some time working out possible feeders with hidden birds in them. I think in general hidden words are a pretty nice idea for a meta theme, and especially with some feeders like RAVENOUS and the aforementioned BOTSWANA, it shouldn't be too hard for teams of any level of expertise. Since I knew the round one meta had to be short, I came up with the meta answer “tweeting”, due to its double entendre, and I think it's a pretty nice meta answer given the relatively small number of feeders we had to work with. Overall, I'm very happy with how this meta came out, and it might be my favorite of the puzzles I wrote for this hunt.