On Wednesday, I went out and the "extra" strings I tied in the yard were gone and the string in the garden was left alone. Today, the garden string was also left alone! Apparently the robin's are like the mob and just needed a tribute. Putting this in Mob terms makes sence since my mother in-law, who lives in a neighborhood like that of the Soprano's in northern NJ, knew exactly how to deal with this situation. Go figure.
I am not sure how often I need to put out this string to keep the bird's happy, but I am thrilled that it worked. So to sum up, $20 owl did not work, but free extra pieces of string worked fine.