Experience Purple Martin Majesty
Find the Roost
The William T. Umstead Bridge (also called "The Old Manns Harbor Bridge") crosses Croatan Sound between Roanoke Island and the village of Manns Harbor. From the Outer Banks, use the newer Virginia Dare Bridge to cross over to Manns Harbor, then bear right until you reach the NC Wildlife Resources Commission boat ramp. Across the highway, on your left, there is a small parking lot. Or you can park at the boat ramp.
Google Maps: 35.912450, -75.769075
The martins roost is most active at sunrise and sunset from mid or late July through mid-August. This is a safe and fun place to see the phenomenon. The CCPMS in 2009 worked with local government and tourism agencies to design and build the pier into the sound from the west end of the bridge. On land donated by the Fearing family, the wheelchair-accessible BeBop memorial pier accommodates fishing, birdwatching and enjoying the sound and marshland.
Crystal Dawn sunset cruises to the Manns Harbor roost were suspended for the summer of 2021 because of public health concerns about coronavirus. Also, the population of martin families at the roost has been unusually small since 2020. We will monitor the location as the 2022 roosting season approaches.The speed zone and public education programs may be activated during the 2022 roosting season if the population of birds warrants it.
In summers past, the CCPMS hosted sunset educational sessions at the observation pier as conditions allowed during the roosting season. Visitors could learn about why the birds are here, where they come from, what they do while here, how long they stay, and how you can participate. For information about the 2022 season, follow this website or contact us:
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