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.
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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!