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A volunteer advocacy group since 2003, the Coastal Carolina Purple Martin Society incorporated in 2008 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. Our mission is to protect the annual roost of Purple Martins at William B. Umstead Memorial Bridge in Manns Harbor, North Carolina, and to promote through public education the conservation of these migratory birds throughout the coastal plain region of North Carolina.
A roosting area under the west end of the William B. Umstead Memorial Bridge (“Old Manns Harbor Bridge”) spanning the Croatan Sound between Manns Harbor and Roanoke Island, N.C. has attracted Purple Martins for more than 40 years. About 100,000 martins come from throughout northeastern North Carolina to roost here from early July through mid-August.
Swarms of purple martins at dawn and dusk presented a traffic safety hazard. Our studies conducted in 2004 and 2005 determined that up to 3,000 birds were killed by vehicles.
In 2007, we worked with state and local officials to place a 20-mph speed limit zone at sunrise and sunset on the west end of the bridge. Flashing lights warn motorists at those hours. Law enforcement patrols the area. The number of martin fatalities has fallen considerably.
In 2012 we raised a state-of-the-art martins nest box with 14 compartments. The following year, martins had filled the house. We monitor the colony during the nesting season in the spring and early summer, and conduct educational programs here. Thanks for support from the Outer Banks Community Foundation.
During the roost season and throughout the year, we give presentations on martin behavior, the Manns Harbor roost, and managing martin colonies.