| 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 that you are not confusing adult House Sparrows (HOSP) with other similar native species. This article from Feeder Watch is also quite helpful.
NOTE: According to the original U or Neb studies, 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 during the breeding season and into Summer and Fall. "Juvies", as they are called, generally appear as female adults across both sexes given the male's immature bib. Some adult HOSP may begin tolerating the halo in poor weather or desperation, or if they adapted to it as juveniles over the Summer. Please see our disclaimer for details.
TIPS & ADVICE (in no particular order; mostly based on customer feedback):
- 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 5 feet from the ground, as squirrels can jump almost that high. Visit "The Spruce" for an excellent article on the subject.
- Feeder arrangements that are adjacent to bushes or shrubs may weaken Halo performance. We have observed HOSP congregate and use these to launch from close by, helping negate the presence of the hanging wires. It is recommended that feeder setups and their Halo(s) be placed out in the open, on a shepherds hook(s), where HOSP must fly in from more of a distance.
- 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 considered part of the deterrence system. The more contained your feeder is inside the Halo, the more effective. If necessary, consider lengthening the hanging wires (see below).
- Straighten 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 Magic Halo was intended for use with these being as linear as possible. It also ensures maximize length of the wires.
- Lengthen the hanging wires. 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 because of this, lengthen them to at least 6" below. The more the better, as long as you maintain at least 4' from the ground. Email us if you think you require these: email@example.com
- For some customers, adding 2 more hanging wires (for a total of 6) makes the difference. All Magic Halo models are now designed for additional wires, and the older "Classic" can be readily adapted (instruction video HERE). But we advise doing this as a last resort, given the narrowed distance between wires and increased likelihood of striking them.
- 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. We typically have two main feeders: black oil sunflower in one and safflower in the other. Both of these alone may help discourage HOSP, given the work involved to crack husks.
- Consider which seed type(s) you are feeding. HOSP are used to eating refuse, and as mentioned above, aren't as used to cracking shells to get at it. According to Sialis, just switching to black oil sunflower alone can reduce HOSP at your feeder, especially if neighbors are feeding millet varieties. They also recommend straight safflower.
- Add a decoy feeder nearby, stocked with milo, millets, cracked corn, or other cheap HOSP-friendly foods. Customer feedback suggests that this is an effective method for diverting HOSP away from your primary feeder setup. Different seed types HERE.
- Scatter millets, cracked corn, or other cheap HOSP-friendly food on the ground, or in a tray on the ground at the base of your pole/shepherd hook. When cleaning your feeder(s), it is also a great place to put any leavings. This simple method may divert HOSP from your feeders, keeping them on the ground instead.
- Try "resetting" your system. If HOSP are still regular visitors to your feeder, remove it for several weeks or a month and they may go elsewhere. To test your efficacy, you can remove the Halo and observe any increase in HOSP numbers, their time spent there, as well as behavior changes at the trough/feeding stations. Some customers report that despite HOSP adapting to their Halo, most are still deterred, an those that do breach are better behaved.
- Stop feeding in the Summer; become a Fall thru Spring-only feeding enthusiast. We think out of all the tips presented here, this one may be the most effective. In our own experience, feeding through Summer is most likely to lower Halo efficacy, given the onset of juveniles in late Spring. These are already immune to lines (pdf), and if they rely on your feeding station, they will continue to eat there and adapt into adulthood. Putting out your feeder/Halo in October, for example, may circumvent this problem.
- If none of the above bring you greater than 75% Halo efficacy, trapping HOSP is a viable option with proven results. Most often, it is just a matter of disrupting a resident colony that matured with your feeder(s) and adapted to your feeder/Halo setup. This is usually the result of neighbors providing them nestbox opportunities, that you may not even be aware of. Read about it in our Magic Halo Blog, including valuable tips and links.
Finally, in judging Halo efficacy, we ask that you examine your results with vs without, differences in refill rates, and whether or not there's at least a net improvement in your bird feeding experience. Carefully consider each of the above guidelines. If you remain certain that the Magic Halo has failed to produce any meaningful results, contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss a path forward. In the meantime, please check out these very helpful resources:
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