Tuesday, January 25, 2022

As we enter our 4th year . . .

After 5 years of using and 3 years of building and selling Magic Halos as a non-profit cottage industry, the most recent data shows that success is dependent on the following:

  • Feeder systems out in the open, away from trees, shrubs, garden furniture, fences, rails and other perch areas that serve as gathering and launch points.
  • Fall-Winter-Spring feeding only. Juvenile HOSP are immune, therefore, remove feeding systems through Summer and into early Autumn. The later in the Fall you restart, the higher your Halo efficacy is likely to be (winter is highest).
  • Feed husk seeds only (black oil sunflower, safflower). HOSP will crack and eat these, but they much prefer millet, seed hearts and other readily eaten foods. If other opportunities are present, they may divert elsewhere.
  • An area or neighborhood that is free from deliberate or otherwise abundant HOSP nesting facilities. For example, if people are providing nest boxes with 1.25"+ holes without monitoring, local colonization will be high with increased rates of juvenile Halo adaptation.
  • Hanging wires that are long enough to cover the lowest perch on your feeder. Failure to do so could see HOSP flying in from below (ext’s here).
  • Adding additional hanging wires remains subjective. Results are mixed from customer to customer. We always recommend starting with 4 wires, upping it to 6 if it appears all else has failed (<75% efficacy). Often times, buyers of 6 keep the extra 2 as spares.
  • A fairly level Halo; if your shepherd hook is too small, and is forcing it down on an angle, pull open the hoop at one of the inside crossbar set screws and bring it around the staff (staff now inside the Halo).
  • Acceptance that you may not reach 100% Halo efficacy. Adjust your expectations to e.g. 80-90%. The Magic Halo is a HOSP deterrent, not -proof. One can only determine this by carefully observing with vs w/o use of the Halo and its hanging wires. If you observe fewer HOSP with the Halo, then continued use still makes sense.
IF you are unable to eradicate the majority of HOSP regardless of steps taken, consider adding a platform or tray below your feeder(s) to contain fallen seed. HOSP by nature are very aggressive birds, and this also shows in their eating habit. Feeders mobbed by HOSP will empty it in very little time, with most seed going to the ground uneaten. A tray will at least help contain and ensure that most of your seed investment remains at the feeder, and does get eaten. Trays also help facilitate Cardinals, and will make it easier for them to overcome their mild aversion to lines/wires.

Read our Magic Halo User’s Guide for additional tips and advice. You can also join the Facebook groups House Sparrow Control and Birdhouses, Bird Feeders & Garden Designs for Native Species to share your experiences and seek the input of others. 

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