Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Closing Shop After 5 Years and 1,311 Halos

Dear Customers,

After 5 years out in the shop, I have officially ended this journey in the design and manufacture of House Sparrow-resistant halo/lines systems for bird feeders. I was very happy to provide this service to the birding community, and to fill a necessary void given there are no formal halo manufactures. The fact that it is a deterrent and not "HOSP-proof" necessarily, yet I still had so many repeat customers over those 5 years, is a testament to its success IMO.

For a DIY video on how to make your own albeit in a X pattern, which appears effective also, check out this YouTube video by Jeff Hanson. Also, subscribe to his channel for future updates. Thank you so much!  --Francis

Monday, September 18, 2023

Magic Halo Functional Description

The Magic Halo is a hand-crafted device for the sole purpose of deterring House Sparrows (HOSP) from hanging bird feeders. It is hung first on your shepherds hook, then the feeder on a hook within the Halo and its hanging wires. Additional hanging wires can be added. The original Magic Halo was invented and patented by the University of Nebraska. The original study papers can be viewed in PDF format HERE & HERE, and we recommend that potential buyers read this article from FeederWatch first. You can also view this 5 second video showing how it works in concept.

  • Before purchasing a Magic Halo, please read our disclaimer and make sure that you are correctly identifying HOSP. Halos over feeders serve as an adult HOSP deterrent. As with anything birds, results can vary. At this time, our survey results indicate that roughly 85% of customers achieve 75-100% efficacy, This appears to make the device quite successful overall.
  • Two lengths of hanging wires are offered. 38" should be long enough to ensure that the weighted ends fall several inches below the lowest feeding station(s) on most large sized tube feeders, e.g. Droll Yankees, Brome, etc. If you have an unusually long feeder, select CUSTOM WIRE LENGTH (OPTIONAL) and enter your length. This can be determined by measuring the total length of your feeder (including the hanger) and adding 6". If you are still unsure, email us at: admin@magichalo.org.
Product Description (minus options):
  • 20" diameter works for most hanging feeder designs (email us with any questions)
  • Finely painted hunter green enamel crossbar (tone may vary)
  • 12 AWG (1/8") thick galvanized steel hoop
  • 24 AWG clip-on galvanized weighted hanging wires (4)
  • Designed for hanging feeders using 1/2" diameter Shepherd hook with 1' reach
  • Simply hang between inside hook and bird feeder
  • With more targeted feeding, expect fewer refills and thus reduced seed cost
  • Price reflects materials cost, ~2 hours labor, and packaging of item
  • Easy assembly in a few minutes, requiring only a phillips head screwdriver
Visit our Support page for the instructional video.

Magic Halo User's Guide

Updated 08-27-2021 | The following will help you adjust, and/or make changes in order to optimize your Magic Halo's performance. It will also help limit birdseed waste and thus reduce cost. But first and foremost, please visit Sialis' Other Brown Birds page to make absolutely sure that you are not confusing adult House Sparrows (HOSP) with other similar native species. This article from Feeder Watch is also quite helpful.

NOTE: According to the original U or Neb studies, Juvenile HOSP may not be deterred, having not yet learned the "danger" of the hanging wires. Usually, these aren't many, however, some users have reported large numbers during the breeding season and into Summer and Fall. "Juvies", as they are called, generally appear as female adults across both sexes given the male's immature bib. Some adult HOSP may begin tolerating the halo in poor weather or desperation, or if they adapted to it as juveniles over the Summer. Please see our disclaimer for details.
TIPS & ADVICE (in no particular order; mostly based on customer feedback):
  • First: Make sure your pole & hook system is squirrel-proof, by using a baffle mounted about 4' high from the ground. Also place it as far into the open as possible, as squirrels can leap as far as 10' from the nearest fence, tree, or other objects. It is best to make sure your feeder is at least 5 feet from the ground, as squirrels can jump almost that high. Visit "The Spruce" for an excellent article on the subject.
  • Feeder arrangements that are adjacent to bushes or shrubs may weaken Halo performance. We have observed HOSP congregate and use these to launch from close by, helping negate the presence of the hanging wires. It is recommended that feeder setups and their Halo(s) be placed out in the open, on a shepherds hook(s), where HOSP must fly in from more of a distance.
  • When installing your Magic Halo, hang the feeder as high and close to the hanger as possible. Many feeders have a needlessly long tether, and this may cause the lower portions of the feeder to hang below the plane of the vertical wire nuts. If the tether can be shortened, by either looping or knotting it, it is best to do so as the 20" hoop (the halo itself) is considered part of the deterrence system. The more contained your feeder is inside the Halo, the more effective. If necessary, consider lengthening the hanging wires (see below).
  • Straighten the hanging wires. Run your fingers down each vertical wire, pinching the entire length, to ensure they are straight and not bent or wavy. We are not clear how much difference this makes, but the original Magic Halo was intended for use with these being as linear as possible. It also ensures maximize length of the wires.
  • Lengthen the hanging wires. The hanger on some tube feeder models is so long that the lowest feeding station(s) ends up at the lowest point of your Magic Halo's hanging wires. If you find HOSP are breaching below the weights because of this, lengthen them to at least 6" below. The more the better, as long as you maintain at least 4' from the ground. Email us if you think you require these: admin@magichalo.org
  • For some customers, adding 2 more hanging wires (for a total of 6) makes the difference. All Magic Halo models are now designed for additional wires, and the older "Classic" can be readily adapted (instruction video HERE). But we advise doing this as a last resort, given the narrowed distance between wires and increased likelihood of striking them.
  • Consider feeding only one seed type per feeder, as opposed to mixing it. Birds often become food-fixated and if your seed is the mixed variety, they will dig and dig looking for just that one seed they want -- spilling everything else in the process. We typically have two main feeders: black oil sunflower in one and safflower in the other. Both of these alone may help discourage HOSP, given the work involved to crack husks.
  • Consider which seed type(s) you are feeding. HOSP are used to eating refuse, and as mentioned above, aren't as used to cracking shells to get at it. According to Sialis, just switching to black oil sunflower alone can reduce HOSP at your feeder, especially if neighbors are feeding millet varieties. They also recommend straight safflower.
  • Add a decoy feeder nearby, stocked with milo, millets, cracked corn, or other cheap HOSP-friendly foods. Customer feedback suggests that this is an effective method for diverting HOSP away from your primary feeder setup. Different seed types HERE.
  • Scatter millets, cracked corn, or other cheap HOSP-friendly food on the ground, or in a tray on the ground at the base of your pole/shepherd hook. When cleaning your feeder(s), it is also a great place to put any leavings. This simple method may divert HOSP from your feeders, keeping them on the ground instead.
  • Try "resetting" your system. If HOSP are still regular visitors to your feeder, remove it for several weeks or a month and they may go elsewhere. To test your efficacy, you can remove the Halo and observe any increase in HOSP numbers, their time spent there, as well as behavior changes at the trough/feeding stations. Some customers report that despite HOSP adapting to their Halo, most are still deterred, an those that do breach are better behaved.
  • Stop feeding in the Summer; become a Fall thru Spring-only feeding enthusiast. We think out of all the tips presented here, this one may be the most effective. In our own experience, feeding through Summer is most likely to lower Halo efficacy, given the onset of juveniles in late Spring. These are already immune to lines (pdf), and if they rely on your feeding station, they will continue to eat there and adapt into adulthood. Putting out your feeder/Halo in October, for example, may circumvent this problem.
  • If none of the above bring you greater than 75% Halo efficacy, trapping HOSP is a viable option with proven results. Most often, it is just a matter of disrupting a resident colony that matured with your feeder(s) and adapted to your feeder/Halo setup. This is usually the result of neighbors providing them nestbox opportunities, that you may not even be aware of. Read about it in our Magic Halo Blog, including valuable tips and links.
Finally, in judging Halo efficacy, we ask that you examine your results with vs without, differences in refill rates, and whether or not there's at least a net improvement in your bird feeding experience. Carefully consider each of the above guidelines. If you remain certain that the Magic Halo has failed to produce any meaningful results, contact us anytime at admin@magichalo.org to discuss a path forward. In the meantime, please check out these very helpful resources:
Lively discussion group on Facebook:
Misc Articles:
Farmers Almanac:

Magic Halo Disclaimer

We did not invent the concept of Lines (halo/wires) surrounding bird feeders, and cannot guarantee that it is House Sparrow (HOSP)-proof given the myriad of designs and contexts that they are placed in. Though our survey data is largely favorable, it is also limited to just 12% of our customers who choose to participate, and assumes that they can correctly identify HOSP.

The original paper from the University of Nebraska published in 1994 did confirm that juvenile (first year) HOSP are Lines-tolerant. If you feed all year long, the deterrence rate may decline in warmer months, with juvenile-adult acclimation continuing indefinitely. HOSP breeding and colonization nearby may also contribute. Overall, Sialis estimates a 88-94% deterrence rate in Winter and 84% in Summer. To disrupt adaptation, we recommend feeding only in Fall-Winter-Spring.

New Magic Halo users should start out expecting a reduction in HOSP, and (possibly) better behavior for those that do adapt. If results are poor, you may need to "reset" your feeder system with a few months down time, switch seed type, or consider modifications. A few of our customers have resorted to trapping to improve Halo efficacy, with claims of success. Please read our Users Guide for full details on how to optimize and get the most from your Magic Halo and feeding in general.

Before deciding on your purchase, please read the following from FeederWatch and Sialis. In judging Halo efficacy, we ask that you examine your results with vs without, before vs after, and whether or not there's at least a net improvement in your bird feeding experience.

Magic Halo is a conservation-minded cottage industry. We do everything we possibly can to minimize cost, and bring you the product at the lowest price possible. Please see our Return Policy HERE.

Magic Halo Support


Assemble the MAGIC HALO (both models)

Add additional hanging wires (model "Classic") HERE

Add hanging wire extenders HERE


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3 year warranty when used on squirrel-proof pole & 1/2" hook systems. If quality defects occur, or parts are needed, please contact us ASAP.

Magic Halo


Shipping is 5-10 business days from the time of payment. Limited money-back guarantee. Official blog: https://www.magichalo.org