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 is a guide for what to look for, adjust, and/or make changes in order to optimize your Halo's performance. But first and foremost, please visit Sialis' Other Brown Birds page to make absolutely sure you are not confusing House Sparrows (HOSP) with other similar native species. Also note that some juvenile HOSP may not be deterred, having not yet learned the "danger" of the hanging wires (fortunately, these are relatively few). Some users complain right away that the Magic Halo isn't effective, and then through troubleshooting, we come to find out that they were seeing female House Finches. These tips will also help you save on the cost of bird seed.
  • 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.

Our mission
is to discourage feeding (and thus 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, ~2 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).