Sunday, December 1, 2019

Flashback: Bird-X "Sparrow-Free Magic Halo" (defunct)

Before we began building and selling feeder halos at MagicHalo.org, there was at least one commercial version offered by a company called "Bird-X". It was 30" in diameter, required assembly of numerous pieces, and used string instead of steel hanging wires. It was marketed as adaptable to both hanging and pole-mounted bird feeders. The 30" design meant that the halo "hoop" had to be opened and brought over and around the shepherds hook, making it more cumbersome than our 20" that fits easily and neatly within.

The original Bird-X ad is still on Amazon, listed as "unavailable", but does not come up in a search. Buyer reviews are mixed, with roughly equal ratings across 5 stars, with the final average of 3 stars. Most 1-2 star reviews say that the halo just didn't work, or stopped working after a week or so, and/or it was cumbersome and difficult to assemble. As expected, 4-5 star reviews say that the product is excellent, and that most or all House Sparrows (HOSP) have been eliminated from their feeder(s).
Assuming the 1-2 star folks did assemble and install this halo correctly, and used the hanging wires (in this case string), one would expect at least some HOSP deterrence, so what was really going on here? That we will never know, and can only ponder how such an opposite pattern of behavior can occur within the same species. (NOTE: One thing we do know; if you're building your own halo, or adding hanging wires to your existing halo, do NOT use string as it invites tangling and injury of birds coming in contact. Steel wire in the 24-gauge (AWG) range resists this potential problem).

Two big problems for Bird-X was the complicated assembly and using "sparrow-free" in their marketing strategy. It produced the highest of expectations, thus setting up many customers (and themselves) for disappointment. For a product like the magic halo, where birds are hardly predictable and are known to vary their habits region to region, such an absolutist approach just wasn't going to work.

Magic Halo "Deluxe" with 6 hanging wires
Therefore, at MagicHalo.org, we took a different approach: build and offer a halo version that's readily assembled, has modest expectations, and includes a juvenile disclaimer (juvenile HOSP are generally immune to halos). Expectations are based on our own survey results indicating that overall, most users experience 80-100% adult HOSP deterrence, or at the very least, that native birds are provided a fairer chance. Since Jan 2018, using this approach, we have sold almost 220 magic halos with what appears widespread customer satisfaction.

In order for us to continue learning about HOSP and halo effectiveness, we need buyer feedback. If you are a MagicHalo.org customer and have not yet taken our 2019 survey, please do so HERE (2 multi-choice Qs and nothing else). Only with your feedback can we accurately describe and market halos to bird feeding enthusiasts. We also remind everyone that we offer enhancements for both our Classic and Deluxe model halos that can help you adjust and/or improve its performance. These include adding additional hanging wires, or lengthening your existing wires.

Note: All new halo buyers are now offered the option of 36" (over 32") length hanging wires to ensure the weights fall below the plain of the feeding ports found near the bottom of jumbo-sized tube feeders. To that end, we sincerely ask for your feedback if you are the user of a Brome, Droll Yankees or other jumbo-size tube feeder with the standard 32". You can take the survey and leave it in the comments field, or email us at: admin@magichalo.org. Thank you so much.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Magic Halo Newsletter, Autumn 2019

Lots of tips and updates in this edition, folks, so be sure to check it out. Feed on!  --MH Admin

Latest Testimonials, Fall 2019

I love how you packed the halos in all of the everyday bags and cardboard rolls. I recycled everything! It took two seconds to put the halos together. They are WONDERFUL!!!  ~ Victoria, Mission Viejo, CA

It really works like magic! No more sparrows, only songbirds. Thank you!!  ~Matt, Indianapolis, IN

It works great and has prevented flocks of sparrows from cleaning out all my feeders in a day. Yes, the occasional rebel braves the wires, but most of his or her buddies are content to eat whatever falls to the ground.  ~Bob, Providence, RI

Thank you so much! This item was perfect and arrived super fast!  ~Kim, Bolingbrook, IL

Thanks for restoring the joy of bird feeding that is diminished when all you attract are dozens of sparrows who take over the whole feeding station. ~Tom, Madison, NJ

Monday, August 19, 2019

Magic Halo 2019 Survey

Our quest for results data continues for 2019, this time with a very brief 2 question survey. In 2018, the performance of the Magic Halo in deterring House Sparrows (HOSP) was mainly positive.

Whether you have had your Magic Halo since early 2018 and already took that survey -- or only recently came on board with one -- please provide your latest/recent feedback using our 2019 SURVEY. 

Before participating, please read our updated Magic Halo Users Guide to ensure that yours is optimally configured. If you have any questions regarding HOSP identity, please read Sialis' Other Brown Birds. Your input is critical to the future of the Magic Halo as a viable sale item.

Going by our surveys thus far, about 80% of users report 80-100% of HOSP deflected. It would appear that results can vary depending on where you live, level of infestation, abundance of nesting sites (juvenile count) and time of year. In addition, don't count juveniles; they haven't yet learned the "danger" of the hanging wires. Usually, these aren't many, however, some users have reported large numbers of “juvies” during the breeding season. If you are a Summer feeder, for example, the Magic Halo may not be as effective as you had hoped for during that time.

Visit Feeder Watch for a complete description and details about using halos with bird feeders.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Updated Magic Halo User Guide

Male Juvenile House Sparrow (HOSP).
Click on image above for more photos.
As we head toward late Summer 2019, a revision came due for our Magic Halo on-line User Guide. 1.5 years and 180 halos later, we have learned a lot about the results and what customers are experiencing. If you haven't already, please re-read/review this guide for a number of valuable tips and troubleshooting techniques. If your halo isn't meeting your expectations, the answer can usually be found below and on our website HERE.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

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 you are not confusing adult House Sparrows (HOSP) with other similar native species. In terms of what to expect, please read this article from Feeder Watch.

NOTE: 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 of “juvies” during the breeding season. Therefore, if you are a Summer feeder, the Magic Halo may not be as effective as you had hoped for during that time. Also through troubleshooting, we come to find out that unhappy buyers were seeing female House Finches or others in the Brown Birds link above.

TIPS & ADVICE:
  • 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 6 feet from the ground, as squirrels can jump up as high as 5 feet. Visit "The Spruce" for an excellent article on the subject.
  • 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 part of the deterrence system. The more contained your feeder is inside the Halo, the more effective. If necessary, consider lengthening the wires. We carry these simple wire extenders for the purpose.
  • Straiten 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 halo was intended for use with these being as linear as possible.
  • Try using a corral, or "hopper" design bird feeder instead of a tube. It is thought that halos can work more effectively depending on the type of feeder used. This short video, however, shows it working excellent with a tube feeder.
  • 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. In the winter months, we typically do black oil sunflower in our main feeder, and millet in a window feeder -- both protected by our Window Half-Halo.
  • Consider which seed type(s) you are feeding. HOSP are used to eating garbage, and thus aren't used to cracking shells to get at it. According to Sialis, just switching to black oil sunflower alone can eliminate most HOSP from your feeder unless they are desperate. They also recommend straight safflower.
  • If you find that adult HOSP are adapting to your Halo by perching on top, and then dropping down behind the wires, consider covering the hoop with pond netting, By request, we can send you a pre-cut section that will fit neatly over the Halo with ~1" overlap. Small tie wraps or the vertical wire hangers/clips themselves can be used to fasten it in place. We find this to be an infrequent issue, but a few users have reported it.
  • Finally, if adult HOSP still continue to breach your Magic Halo, adding 2 more hanging wires (for a total of 6) may be your best bet. The "Deluxe" model is designed for additional wires, and the "Classic" can be readily adapted (instruction video HERE). 
If you continue to have issues (< 2/3 deflection) after taking the precautions above, contact us anytime at admin@magichalo.org to discuss a path forward.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Magic Halo Newsletter, August 2019

Please take our very brief 2-question survey about your Halo's performance. Simply click on the bar graph image below. Feed on, everyone!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Latest Testimonials

We are extremely satisfied with our halo. We live in a suburban development community with a large wooded city park across the street that has a river running through it. To the back of the house are three small lakes. No shortage of HOSPs! The halo has stopped all of them. ~Lesly, Indianapolis, IN

The one that we bought on Ebay is working miracles! Glad to have it! ~Carla, Farmingdale, NY


I am still experiencing 100% reduction in House Sparrows (HOSP). Yesterday I saw some "brownish" bird feeding in my caged feeder and I though oh no, they are back. The bird looked different. Then a few more showed up along with one with a red head. The House Finches are back. Things are working very nicely due to your product. Now I can hope for some Goldfinches! ~Paul, Eden Prairie, MN


A+ seller and amazing product. It's amazing how well it works! ~Frank, Congers, NY


It just flabbergasts me how well this thing works. 30 years of dealing with those buggers is now solved for 29 bucks. Thanks to you! ~Jim, Moorhead, MN


Works EXCELLENT. Nice workmanship. Bye Bye Sparrows! ~Chris, Maywood, NJ

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Latest Magic Halo Instructional Video

Here is our latest instructional video for the Magic Halo ("Classic" model shown). As you will see, it is VERY easy to assemble and install. Contact us at: admin@magichalo.org if you have any questions. Thanks!

 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Magic Halo Tips and Troubleshooting

A caged tube feeder contained within a
Magic Halo. This setup deters House
Sparrows and Starlings.
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 you are not confusing adult House Sparrows (HOSP) with other similar native species. In terms of what to expect, please read this article from Feeder Watch.

NOTE: 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 of “juvies” during the breeding season. Therefore, if you are a Summer feeder, the Magic Halo may not be as effective as you had hoped for during that time. Also through troubleshooting, we come to find out that unhappy buyers were seeing female House Finches or others in the Brown Birds link above.

Tips and Advice:
  • 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 8' from the nearest fence, tree, or other objects. It is best to make sure your feeder is at least 5 feet up, as squirrels can jump from the ground. Visit "The Spruce" for an excellent article on the subject.
  • When installing the 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" thick wire ring (the halo itself) is part of the deterrence system. The more contained your feeder is inside the Halo, the more effective.
  • Try a hanging corral, ranch, or "hopper" design bird feeder instead of a tube. Though by no means conclusive, some say that halos can work more effectively depending on the type of feeder used. This short video, however, shows it working excellent with a tube feeder.
  • 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 halo was intended for use with these being as linear as possible.
  • Select a bird feeder that does not allow birdseed to simply spill out when jarred or shaken. We have found that most feeders waste an extraordinary amount of seed, especially when attacked by squirrels, Starlings, and HOSP. Droll Yankees are notoriously bad. If you find that your feeder is emptying quickly -- even with the Halo deterring HOSP -- inspect the ground and determine how much seed is shell waste vs whole seed spillage. Starlings and HOSP are very aggressive and sloppy at feeders, so any feeder designed to bring seed up to the station edge is going to waste it. Some birders modify their feeders to raise the station edge, using tape or another means to restrict said spillage.
  • 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. In the winter months, we typically do black oil sunflower in our main feeder, and millet in a window feeder -- both protected by a design of Halo.
  • If you find that HOSP are adapting to your Halo by perching on top, and then dropping down behind the wires, there is a solution: Stretch pond or garden netting over the full diameter of the halo, covering it, using small twist wraps or ties to fasten in place. We find this to be a very rare issue, but a few users have reported it.
  • Finally, if HOSP continue to breach the 4 weighted vertical wires that come standard with your Halo, try adding 2 more. Visit the Support page for simple installation instructions.
If you continue to have issues after taking the precautions above, contact me anytime at admin@magichalo.org

Monday, July 9, 2018

Deter House Sparrows from your hanging feeder with a Magic Halo

This simple, hand-crafted device is designed for hanging bird feeders. For most users, it discourages 80-100% of non-native adult House/English Sparrows (HOSP). Many experience 100% effectiveness, but results can vary depending on where you live, level of infestation, and time of year. Visit Feeder Watch for a complete description and details about using Halos.

NOTE:  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 of “juvies” during the breeding season. Therefore, if you are a Summer feeder, the Magic Halo may not be as effective as you had hoped for during that time.

Our mission
is to discourage feeding (and nesting) of HOSP, and thus help increase the numbers of native sparrows, finches, songbirds, and all others that come to feeders. Included with your purchase:
  • 20" diameter works for all hanging feeder designs  
  • Hunter Green enamel finish with 12 AWG (3/32") thick galvanized aluminum hoop
  • Use of 24 AWG galvanized weighted steel wires to resist bird tangling and/or injury
  • Drastically reduce or eliminate feeding non-native, invasive HOSP to encourage native species
  • Designed for hanging feeders using 1/2" (or less) thick Shepherd hooks
  • Simply hang between hook and bird feeder
  • Hang feeder as high up and close to the halo as possible
  • With more targeted feeding, expect lower volume and cost of birdseed
  • $29 cost reflects materials cost, ~3 hours labor, and packaging of item
  • Easy assembly in only a few minutes
For more information, email us at: admin@magichalo.org



The birds flying up at, and then away from the Halo-protected feeder in the above video are HOSP. The device definitely works, with only an occasional breach, allowing the use of feeders by native birds. If you find it is not at least reducing HOSP, you may return your Halo for a complete refund (+ one-way shipping).

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Experimenting with a Bluebird nest box

We have a customer from Fort Wayne IN mounting our Magic Halo over a Bluebird nest box. As many of you know, HOSP invading birdhouses and terrorizing native birds already using them is very disheartening, to say the least. Victims most often include Swallows and Bluebirds.

While we cannot guarantee positive results in birdhouse applications, our "test" customer is having wonderful success using the halo, having tried a "sparrow spooker" first without luck. Stay tuned for more updates as we learn of them!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Testimonial from North Andover, MA

"It seems to be working really well. Yesterday there were a few [HOSP] being a bit persistent around the halo but they didn't enter.  They are certainly pesky little birds. I also noticed them on my other bluebird feeder with mealyworms. I have 2 pair of bluebirds actively visiting that feeder so I wonder if I should get another one for that feeder? I take it you think it will not deter the bluebirds?" -- Josselyn

This is wonderful to hear! The Magic Halo is not known to impact Bluebirds; mainly House Sparrows. Thank you so much for the feedback, we hope to hear from you again soon!


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Our first customer is from Indianapolis IN!

Lesly and her hubby are from Indianapolis IN. They ordered one of our Magic Halos, and immediately saw results! We welcome them as we begin to grow a close-knit customer base, working together to ward off those pesky House Sparrows!

Thank you so much Lesly, for coming on board!


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Story Behind Magic Halo

Frank Warnock (Admin, Magic Halo/Bird Feeder Halo) has been an advocate for walking, bicycling, and wildlife conservation his entire adult life. The idea to fight decline of native species was inspired by his (and other Advocate’s) devastating loss in trying to save 180 acres of critical habitat area, wetlands, and open space in Ogletown, Delaware. This occurred at the hands of Government corruption and profiteering, at the expense of threatened and endangered species, and can never be recovered. Such loss of biodiversity is directly responsible for declining native bird populations, while facilitating an increase in House Sparrows (HOSP) and other non-native birds.
As a Technical Specialist by trade, Frank has put his skills to work in order to assist other bird feeding enthusiasts. First was producing a 20" version of the "Magic Halo", a device that was originally invented at the University of Nebraska to deter non-native House Sparrows (HOSP). Others include a hanger device to deter Starlings from Suet feeders, and Caging kits for Corral/Hopper/Ranch-style feeders to help guard against Blackbird raids. Similar products for window bird feeders and to adapt deterrent systems to pole-mounted feeders are in the works also. Some of Frank's favorite affiliations over 35 years include the Bicycle Touring Club of North Jersey, NY/NJ Trail Conference, White Clay Bicycle Club (DE), Rails to Trails Conservancy, Wetlands Institute (NJ), Delaware Nature Society, etc.
We hope you find our services helpful in your endeavor to efficiently feed native American birds to the exclusion of non-native. We must work together toward a more resilient natural world. Please “Like” us here on Facebook and share with others for all the latest tips and strategies for feeding native birds while (hopefully) forcing non-native into decline.
R.I.P. Orphanage Property, critical habitat, wetlands, and open space being destroyed through Govt corruption, at the hands of  both New Castle County and the State of Delaware.