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 36" (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.

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