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

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