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, leaving an approx 90% success rate. Juveniles are fewer than adults, but it further confuses the results that one might expect. They can be more abundant in some areas over others, and resemble adults as the season goes on.

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 types that include husk-only (pure black oil sunflower, safflower). Avoid HOSP-friendly varieties such as millet, cracked corn, or hearts of any type, as these only increase temptation. In judging Halo efficacy, we ask that you examine your results with vs without, before vs after, and whether or not there's at least a net improvement in your bird feeding experience.

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 some 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 as anything more than a deterrent.

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 efficacy survey, please visit out Support page for the latest link. 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.