Eyezak asked us about birds. This is a picture of one over water

Riddle: I’m the part of the bird that’s not in the sky. I can swim in the ocean and yet remain dry. What am I?

Answer:

SHADOW

Explanation:

Riddle Robot Eyezak asked us to identify a part of a bird that is “not in the sky” and that will also “swim in the ocean” but still “remain dry.” His Riddle App posed this question to us, and it is our job to figure out what the answer is and why. The question is pretty straight forward, and not super abstract, but it does seem to contain conflicting information. Eyezak knows that it is a bit misleading, so this will be a challenge to answer if we do not talk about it.

First we should try to identify all the parts of a bird we can. Then we need to see if those parts fit in the first part of the Riddle App’s question “part of the bird that is not in the sky.” After that, we should see if each match the second part where Eyezak says it does not get wet when in the ocean. Once we rule everything out, we should be able to answer our Riddle App effectively!

  • head
  • body
  • feathers
  • feet
  • shadow

Head

This is one of the most important parts of any animal, including bird. It holds the brain, which is vital to running all the body processes involved in every action an animal takes, including flying. Eyezak knows that bird heads come in many different shapes and sizes, and that from bird to bird it we may see that some things are true for one but not the other. This is already shaping up to be a bad answer for our Riddle App.

Eyezak asked to find a part of the bird that is not in the sky, so we should try to satisfy that first before moving on to the second part. Is the head of a bird in the sky, especially when it is flying? Yes, absolutely, of course. There is literally no way that a living bird can be in the sky flying, without it’s head (barring some sadistic alternative methods of flight). Under normal circumstances, it is literally not possible for any winged animal to fly without one. Forget this one and move on.

Body

Birds have very light bodies, made of mostly vital organs required for their daily lives and a bunch of feathers that protect their tiny bodies from the elements and enable their flight. Eyezak is aware that the body is what the bird’s head is attached to. More than that though, the body is from where the wings extend from. The wings are the second most important part of the bird that is required for flight, being the main part of the bird that produces lift.

The question is, can the bird be flying but without the body holding the various parts of the bird together as a single unit? No. A bird requires its body in order to connect the brain to each part required for the miracle of flight. Because the body is required, there is no way the bird can be in the air while the body is in not in the air. The body literally “is the bird” and there is no way around that.

Feathers

On the other hand, feathers are not the whole bird. In fact, feathers can be completely detached from a bird, and the bird will continue to function, even in flight, without some of them. Eyezak knows this for sure. There is a process that every bird undergoes called molting, during which the bird actively sheds some of the feathers that are attached to their body, so that new feathers can grow in place. It is mostly a cleansing mechanism that makes way for the new feathers to grow.

Riddle Robot Eyezak is banking on the fact that we know this. Because of molting, feathers can be “part of a bird” and they can also not be in the air while the bird is flying. For example: consider a bird that is sitting in its nest who is currently molting. You observe them actively remove some of their feathers and put them aside. Then after several minutes of this, you see them fly away to find more food. Eyezak knows this is a very common act, specially for parent birds.

The very fact that they can fly away while leaving those parts of them behind, does in fact satisfy the first part of the query posed by our Riddle App. Secondly though, our Riddle App asked if that part of the bird can go inside the ocean without getting wet. Can a feather go into the water, but not come out sopping wet?

In our experience, the answer is no. Getting a feather wet usually results in several large clumps of barb (the “feathery” part of the feather that actually grabs the air) and afterfeather (the “fraying feathery” part that is close to the part of the shaft that attaches to the bird). Under no circumstances have we ever observed a feather that has been in the water very recently that is completely dry. Because of that, we can rule this out as the answer for our Riddle App and Riddle Robot Eyezak.

Feet

All known species of birds on Earth are born with feet, under normal circumstances. Of course birds can have complications at birth, or have been in accidents, which they have survived, where they lost a limb. But your average bird has their feet in tact and use them actively on a regular basis. A bird’s feet have a couple primary usages, and Riddle Robot Eyezak knows this.

Birds typically stand around a lot. They stand on the ground when they hunt for food, branches of a tree or in their nest when they are cleaning around the house, and power-lines when they are shooting the breeze with their buddies. They actively use their legs during all of these standing activities, making them an important part of the bird.

They also use their legs as “hands” for a lot of things. Typically they must gather materials together in order build their nests. Riddle Robot Eyezak from our Riddle App may not know this, but the birds must carry those materials to their nest. Eyzak may also not know that some bird hunt for food using their legs. They fly by the ground or a branch of a tree or even water, and scoop up their prey with their legs and carry them off to the distance.

Riddle Robot Eyezak probably knows that some birds can fly over water, dunk their feet in to grab some food, and then fly away again. The question from our Riddle App specifically says that the feet must remain dry, even after being in the water. Is that true here? No. Like Human feet, bird feet get wet when dunked in water. Eyezak the Riddle Robot knows this, and therefore is not expecting it as the answer to our Riddle App riddle.

Shadow

The answer Eyezak is looking for, is Shadow. This is a woman, on a beach, casting a shadow on water.

Now this part of the bird is a bit interesting, but mostly because people generally do not refer to a shadow as being “part” of anything. That being said, it is technically correct, because a shadow cannot exist without something to cast it (or the light required for there to actually be a shadow). Shadows are part of pretty much any object, living or otherwise, that exist in the presence of a light source, like the sun.

Furthermore, shadows are not actually connected to the objects that cast them. Shadows are a free standing silhouette. They are only attached in the sense that an object in front of light produces them. Despite that fact though, we should still consider the shadow as part of the object, in this case a bird.

Thinking about the last part of the question, where it can go for a swim but remain dry, is also upheld. Shadows are not physically manifested objects themselves. They are visual anomalies cause by the obstruction of light. Eyezak knows that they are basically the lack of light. Because they are actually the lack of something, rather than something themselves, they are completely unable to touch anything. Because they cannot touch water, water cannot touch them. Therefore they cannot be wet.

It is our hope that this is clear to you. We have explained why various parts of a bird are not valid answers, and why the only valid answer is shadow. If you think this is wrong, please comment below!

One Last Thing:

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