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. 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.

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