Monday, December 16, 2019

New Magic Halo Disclaimer for 2020

We recently added the following disclaimer to our on-line website and store:

We did not invent the concept of halos over bird feeders, and cannot guarantee that it is House Sparrow-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 15% of our customers who choose to participate. Some of them do report House Sparrows (HOSP) overcoming the Magic Halo and its hanging wires - particularly in times of poor weather and/or desperation. Factors may include nearby structures, the desirability of the food, visibility conditions that sharpen/blur perception of the hanging wires, availability of other food nearby, harshness of Winters, etc.

The original Paper from the University of Nebraska published in 1994 did confirm that Juvenile HOSP are Halo-tolerant, and it is poorly understood at what point they turn adult and how many there are at any given time. HOSP can have multiple broods through August, with parents desperate to feed their young. The study cited 2-11% of HOSP visiting feeders with Halos did manage to breach, including juveniles, leaving an approx 90% success rate. Juveniles are much fewer than adults, but it further confuses the results that one might expect. They can be more abundant in some areas over others. and usually resemble adult females given the male's lack of a fully formed bib.

Before deciding to purchase a Magic Halo, we strongly advise potential customers to read the following from FeederWatch and Sialis first. Attention should also be paid to recommended seed type(s), and to avoid mixing, especially with known HOSP-friendly varieties such as millet.

We appreciate your understanding.

Feed-on, HOSP-free!

In good conscience, we can no longer guarantee "HOSP-proof" in using the Magic Halo over bird feeders. While many users continue to experience excellent results in HOSP elimination, others have observed them overcoming the Halo's presence. In other words, the birds can be unpredictable, with variable behavior patterns from place to place. Then there is the issue of Juveniles. When it all comes down, the success of the product is too subjective to guarantee it.

That said, Seasons Greetings to all of our customers and followers, and we wish you the best for the coming New Year in 2020!

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 38" (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

Friday, September 20, 2019

Simple modification guards against feeder disconnect

Squirrel-proofing was not really considered when we started building Magic Halos in Jan 2018. However, we just heard from a customer that their feeder disconnected from the hook as a result. A squirrel climbed on top of the Halo, then launched off when spooked. This pushed the crossbar down vertically, causing the feeder to slide off the hook's end. Since that time, all new Magic Halos come with a vinyl tip which will act as a "brake" to prevent that from happening.

If you are having this issue, let us know at: admin@magichalo.org

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 and into Summer. Also, HOSP may begin tolerating the halo in poor weather or desperation. Please see our 2020 disclaimer for details.

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 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 now that feeder setups and their Halos be placed out in the open, on a shepherds hook(s), where HOSP must fly in from 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 part of the deterrence system. The more contained your feeder is inside the Halo, the more effective. If necessary, consider lengthening the hanging 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. We typically have two main feeders: black oil sunflower in one and safflower in the other. Both of these alone discourage HOSP, given their reluctance to crack husks.
  • Consider which seed type(s) you are feeding. HOSP are used to eating garbage, and as mentioned above, aren't used to cracking husks 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