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 have been suspended for the summer of 2021 because of public health concerns about coronavirus. Also, the population of martin families at the roost was unusually small in 2020. The speed zone will be activated during the 2021 roosting season if the population of birds warrants it.
Beginning July 14, the CCPMS will host sunset educational sessions Wednesdays at the observation pier as conditions allow during the summer 2021 roosting season. 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 more information contact us:
or on Facebook.