Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Possible House Sparrow Juvenile to Adult Timeline

Thanks to Cornell U's Lab of Ornithology, we might have a better understanding of when House Sparrows (HOSP) fully mature. Juveniles are generally immune to halos and other lines/wires devices. According to this infographic, HOSP may not reach adulthood until sometime in mid-Nov, on average, throughout its range. We continue to wonder if continued adaptation is the case, especially if HOSP are resident and mature on site, where you live.

A single HOSP pair can spawn 10 to 20 fledglings per year. If you are one of only a few feeders in the neighborhood, they may be abundant -- regardless of seed type you are using. We know that the Magic Halo isn't always 100% effective, and in some cases, may only "help". Juvenile populations may account for that, since they begin to resemble adults as the post-nesting season goes on. Despite this issue, most folks will acknowledge that they are still better off using a Halo than not. Read about HOSP proliferation, courtesy of Sialis, HERE.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Magic Halo Newsletter, Autumn 2020

Web version HERE. Includes:
  • Hanging wire clips will rust (but not to worry)
  • Test Cast: Year-Round Feeding
  • 2021 (brief) Efficacy Survey TBA
  • Other News/Misc

Test Case: Year-Round Feeding

Since 2016, we have been feeding birds from Fall through early Spring using halos, starting out with the original Bird-X model. Then, upon its disappearance from the shelves, we started hand making and selling our own. Theirs or ours, House Sparrows (HOSP) were 100% eliminated -- not just from our feeders (2, pure black oil sunflower and safflower), but from the entire gardens it seemed.

After 4 HOSP-free years, for the first time, we decided to keep the feeders going year-round (2020), to ensure Halo efficacy remained consistent during the hot weather months. As it turned out, this was not the case; at some point during mid-Summer, a single HOSP would appear at a time. Then one became two, and then a few at a time as we entered late Summer and Fall. Now as many as 3-5 HOSP can be seen at a time making it through the hanging wires, but their behavior at the feeder is usually nervous and erratic, and they usually don't stay long (some longer than others).

So, in order to test efficacy, we did a few experiments. We found that removing the Halo does bring about a surge in HOSP numbers, and makes them more comfortable and thus more aggressive at the feeders. Therefore, at least in our observation, keeping the Halo up still serves as a deterrent and helps reduce seed consumption -- and thus cuts refill rates and costs. If this wasn't the case, we would have to consider ending Magic Halo production and quit selling the device. We hope it never comes to that.

So the question becomes, how did this happen, after years of 100% HOSP-free feeding? It is impossible to know without a university taking up the cause with scientific studies. But the most plausible theory has to do with leaving the feeders up through Summer (year-round). It would seem likely that HOSP juveniles nesting nearby (20 chicks avg per year per pair) commandeered our gardens in Spring, making it their territory and regular source of food. As first year birds, they started out immune to lines (wires), as shown in the original U of Neb studies. As the season went on, continued adaptation followed. Given this observation, we had to update our disclaimer to further emphasize the issue of juveniles and that Halos are best viewed as an adult HOSP deterrent, not "-proof" though many folks continue with feedback that it is (and it was for us, until this year).

We hope this helps our customers understand, and to continue using their Magic Halo as just one tool in the toolbox in the effort to reduce or eliminate HOSP from their feeders. Each year, we offer a new survey in order to keep efficacy data rolling in, so please participate as much as you can. Our surveys do not require any personal info and are 100% safe and secure. If you haven't already, please take the 2021 Survey. Written feedback (admin@magichalo.org) with attached photos of your feeding setup is also very much appreciated, and will be considered for this blog. As always, let us know your experiences using the Magic Halo!

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Hanging hardware will rust or tarnish (but not to worry)

We've had customer concerns regarding rust overtaking the Halo's hanging wire clips. At this time, there isn't much we can do about this issue. Other than their aesthetic appearance, functionality is not effected nor is it for other parts. This clip is the highest quality and most suited to our purpose of hanging weighted wires from the Halo, but it is chrome plated steel. We are not able to find a commercially available, weather-proof clip that is similarly sized and designed.

That said, if any of you are aware of a clip that you think could work, and maintain its appearance through the elements over years time, please email us at admin@magichalo.org with a link. We are open to trying new components and offering additional options if the demand is there. Until then, we maintain our 3 year warranty on all parts of our Magic Halos regardless of location and weather conditions -- though we expect them to last longer even with rust discoloration.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Magic Halo Newsletter, End of Summer 2020

 Web version HERE. Includes:
  • A check of your strap hanger for tightness
  • 2020 Survey contest winner
  • End of Summer survey results
  • Replacement wires now on offer (with elegant weights option)

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Strap Hanger Safety Inspection

We saw it recently where the strap hanger on the Magic Halo's crossbar began to loosen, with one or both pan head screws lifting up from the threads. We think this is extremely rare, but are asking our customers (especially long time users ~2018) -- to periodically inspect this part of the Halo to ensure it is snugged properly. It is important because we don't want to worry about feeders crashing to the ground; many are delicately made and could be damaged in a fall.

Though an isolated event, it can't hurt to check yours just to make sure. If at all loose, snug both screws down with a philips head screwdriver, being careful not to over-tighten. If you want to doubly insure good purchase (thread security), you can also remove the strap completely and inject a couple of drops of your favorite super glue into both screw holes. This will solidify the threads that are in there. Wait a few hours and then re-install the strap. The same process can be applied to the feeder hook on the opposite side, should any thread instability be detected; this part is easily checked/unscrewed with a counter-clockwise twist. Email us with any questions: admin@magichalo.org

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Magic Halo Newsletter, Summer 2020

Web version HERE. Includes:
  • 2020 Survey Contest Winner Announced!
  • Halo leveling issue? Try this simple procedure
  • Latest Testimonials and Survey Data
  • New Offering: Replacement Hanging Wires 

Saturday, July 4, 2020

2020 Survey Contest Winner Announced!

Ray Denenberg of Silver Springs Maryland wins a Magic Halo Regal from MagicHalo.org. Winner was drawn from a pool of customers that participated in our 2020 results survey. Congratulations, Ray!

Latest Testimonials and Feedback, 2020

The reason we strive for results and input is to know our product is a success, but also to have this available for potential buyers -- those considering the purchase of a Magic Halo.

Here is what we collected from our 2020 Survey comments, along with our latest testimonials. We did not include names for privacy reasons. Overall, the results are very positive, considering that House Sparrows (HOSP) are one of -- if not THE most adaptable bird in the world and can learn to overcome almost anything.

We thank all of you, the approx 15% of our customers who participated in the survey.


The Halo absolutely has improved the situation. We previously had gangs of HOSP then after the first halo, zero. Recently (May/June) I returned to a mixed feed to attract a wider range of birds and we have seen HOSP pairs breach the halo. You definitely need to pay attention to both seed choice and halo configuration. Together you can definitely reduce HOSPs.

I purchased the Deluxe version with two additional wires since I had a very bad infestation. I tried it first without the additional wires and some were bypassing. When I added the additional wires, they quit attempting to access the feeder.

I’m very pleased you decided to manufacture this product!!!

The halo eliminated house sparrows off my hanging tube feeder/squirrel proof cage (weight triggered). It also cut down on the sparrows which come to all my feeders. Feeders are in a patio area of 15'x20'. Also stopped grackles and starlings from getting on the feeder. and RWBD still get on but don't stay long. Woodpeckers and Chickadees still come in full force. Halo is a big success!

I do think they are reduced overall. Initially they were greatly reduced but over time, they have figured it out.

I just wanted to let you know how much we love and appreciate the Magic Halo we purchased from you about a year ago. We live in Washington, DC, and I truly thought we were going to have to give up our bird feeders because they were just mobbed by house sparrows all the time and it was so depressing knowing we were feeding them. My husband had basically given up on having bird feeders until I ordered a Magic Halo and I truly cannot believe how well it works. I have never seen a single house sparrow on our feeder, while all the other birds flit happily past the wires. It may be the single most impressive product I have ever bought. Thank you SO MUCH for coming up with this amazing invention.

I must have had 20-30 HOSP per day; filled the bird feeder 3 times each day......found out how stupid I was when I read up on what they do! Now I will see 1 HOSP per every few days or longer. It has made life so much better!!

Works great! Have bought two and they both repel >90% of HOSP. Keep it up!

Although it has very effectively repelled all house sparrows, we are also seeing very few native birds, despite their presence elsewhere in our neighborhood. We're not sure yet if that's the halo, the type of seed, other features of the feeder, etc., so we're going to give it some more time and experiment. We're currently missing the House Sparrows a little because there are no birds to watch!

The product has worked great. Our feed is lasting much longer. Yes you can enter me in the drawing. Thank You!

Magic Halo is a great product and it has held up well through the seasons. The Starling and Squirrel mafias have gotten used to it however and it has gradually become less effective. Still, I am happy to have had it and I think it continues to make some difference.

I was being wiped out by Sparrows. They emptied my large bird feeder daily and shut out other birds from feeding. Since I put in the halo, the Sparrows have disappeared and our native birds are back. Now, if I could only get rid of that rogue squirrel......

The Magic Halo paid for itself in a very short amount of time. I don't have to fill the feeder nearly as often and the other birds have returned.

Wanted to let you know that I'm very happy with our Magic Halo purchase. I've attached a video showing it deterring a house sparrow while a finch dines at the feeder. I have a blog and wrote about it here: https://projectpalermo.com/2020/06/14/orc-week-6-cursing-the-queen-and-hailing-the-halo/

I used it over a bluebird house as sparrow kept moving in. It worked! However, the bluebirds haven't moved in...yet. It might be too early as they haven't moved in to their favorite house location either. BUT the sparrows have been deterred from the one Halo I own.

This was immediately 100% effective. Not one house sparrow has used my main feeder in the 2 weeks since I've been using this. I have gone from having 15-20 house sparrows in my backyard to 3 or 4 (they use my other feeders that don't have halos). This purchase was a last resort for me. Other methods, like switching to safflower, and using cling style feeders, had been ineffective. I'm undecided on whether I would purchase halos for my other feeders, as the house sparrows are down to a reasonable number now, and the halo is a bit unsightly. Maybe one day you could make a slightly more attractive model. Maybe something other than nuts could be used to weigh down the wires. Just an idea. I am overall very happy with the product.

The Magic Halo has been 100% effective in keeping HOSPs off my thistle feeder. Goldfinches, House Finches, Siskins, and Juncos still come to the feeder, but the English Sparrows completely stay away.

It is more than a year now since I attached the Magic Halo to my thistle feeder. I have not had one HOSP on the feeder. Not one, even though there can be as many as 30 on the platform feeder not 20 yards away.

I have two of the halos, when I bought them, the only place I could find them was on eBay. I have five feeders, two halos, so the HOSP still can get to three feeders. Those three feeders are on a Shepherd's hook in the yard. The Halo doesn't fit on it. I would love to see one modified to fit the Shepherd's hook, I could get rid of all the HOSP.

It has worked far better than I had anticipated it would. Totally eliminated my Sparrow problem.

I have noticed a slight dip in all birds to the feeder, but a significant drop in house sparrows. Over all I was happy with my purchase.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Possible leveling procedure for your Magic Halo

Due to loose tolerances in the mfg process of the hook and strap hanger used to hang your Magic Halo on a shepherds hook, it may not hang as level as it should (parallel with the ground). This is something we have little control over, but we are working on a permanent fix for all new Halos going forward.

The easiest workaround may be turning the Halo's feeder hook in a counter-clockwise direction, starting with an approx 1/8 turn. You can also try clockwise, IF there's room to tighten it. If this fails to correct it, try a 1/4 turn, and finally even a half turn (hook opening to the opposite direction).

One of these positions along the way should level off your Magic Halo. It will never hang perfectly level, but should get it close enough. If it is off by more than a few degrees and won't correct regardless, email us a photo so we can develop a fix for you: admin@magichalo.org
Above: The Magic Halo feeder hook (chrome "Classic" model shown). This applies to both "Classic" and "Deluxe" models. Vinyl tip was introduced as a later modification (see HERE).

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Magic Halo Newsletter, Late Spring 2020

Web version HERE. Don't forget to enter to win a FREE Magic Halo Regal! Also in this edition, some interesting reading on the effects of wires in repelling birds.

Friday, April 3, 2020

New Instructional Video: Hanging Wire Extenders

The hanger on some tube feeder models is so long that the lowest feeding station(s) ends up at the lowest point of your Magic Halo's hanging wires. If you find HOSP are breaching below the weights (hex nuts) because of this, you may consider adding 6"-12" wire extenders.

If you require a custom length, simply select CUSTOM LENGTH (OPTIONAL) instead, and specify the inches or feet required. These are quickly installed by inserting 1.5" of each wire end through each of your existing hex nut weights (4-6), and twisting them like a wire tie. The below brief video demonstrates the procedure on a hanging wire in our shop. It is CAPTIONS ONLY, there is no audio:

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Magic Halo Newsletter, Spring 2020!

Web version HERE.

Mod #2 Announced: Brome 30"+ Length Feeders

Extra long tube feeders
 were not originally considered when we started building Magic Halos in Jan 2018, given the distance from the halo to the lowest feeding station(s). This may negate any benefit of the "hoop" device itself. Also, the weighted ends of the hanging wires may fall at or above the lowest feeding station(s), making the Magic Halo less or ineffective overall.

That said, we haven't heard from any of our customers about the original 30" hanging wires being a problem for them, and we assume some are using these feeders. Regardless, we have decided to make wire extensions a free modification for users of extra long feeders, e.g. Brome Squirrel Solution 200 and Classic/Finch models. See graphic to the right.

For maximum HOSP (House Sparrow) deterrence, said wire ends/nuts should be at least 6" inches below -- preferably more. If yours do not, email us at: admin@magichalo.org for extensions that you simply twist tie through each nut. Extensions and shipping are both FREE as long as you include a photo of your feeder w/halo. Note that as of 2019, all new halo orders have no-price difference with the option of 38" hanging wires, or even longer by special request.

Our 1st modification involved squirrel-proofing; we had a customer whose feeder disconnected from the hook when a squirrel climbed on top of the Halo and launched off upon being 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. See our Autumn 2019 newsletter for details including a photo.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Magic Halo Newsletter, Winter 2020

Web version HERE. Lots of tips and updates in this edition, folks, so be sure to check it out. Customers who take our results survey can enter for a chance to win a Magic Halo Regal LTD!

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Hopper-Tray Combo Helps Eliminate Seed Waste

Introducing the Hopper-Tray Combo. Our latest idea was to adapt a 9x13 cookie tray to supplement the feeding area to deter whole-seed waste. It provides two levels of containment, ensuring that very little if any seed ends up on the ground uneaten.

The other goal of this feeder was weather protection. We recently tested it through 3" of rain and the seed stayed DRY, the result of a roof design that well overhangs the trough and includes a sealed filler cap.

Unfortunately, it is hard to find a commercial feeder that can make similar claims. Most have poorly designed troughs that spill over, and/or they are hardly rain-proof resulting in wet seed turning to moldy clumps that can sicken birds if left uncleaned.

At MagicHalo.org, our goal is to feed and propagate native birds only, and do it efficiently with minimal waste and effort. To that end, we recommend single-stream feeding (one seed type, e.g. Sun or Safflower, not mixed), and if you prefer more, split them among multiple feeders. Email us anytime if you have any questions or need advice. We're happy to help: admin@magichalo.org

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Magic Halo 2020 Survey

Our quest for Magic Halo results data continues for 2020 with a brief 5 QUESTION SURVEY. Past surveys have indicated that it does indeed help in deterring House Sparrows (HOSP) from bird feeders. With only about 15% participating, about 80% report 80-100% of HOSP deflected. The results can vary depending on where you live, level of infestation, abundance of nesting sites (juvenile count) and time of year.

Juveniles are usually immune to the Halo's presence, and HOSP can have multiple broods through August each year, Before participating, please read our updated Magic Halo Users Guide to ensure that yours is optimally configured. If you have any questions regarding HOSP identity, please read Sialis' Other Brown Birds. Your input is critical to the future of the Magic Halo as a viable sale item, or how we market it. Therefore, we must continue to collect data on its performance. We can't thank you enough!

Visit FeederWatch.org for a complete description and details about using halos with bird feeders.