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
Observation Pier
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 phenonmenon. 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. 
By Boat
Crystal Dawn sunset cruises give you a close-up experience at the roost. The 2020 cruises will take place July 30, Aug. 1, Aug. 6 and Aug. 8. The boat leaves Pirates Cove marina at 7:00 p.m. (be there at 6:30) and runs about 3 hours. Bring a picnic and binoculars. A CCPMS guide is on board. Tickets are $30, refundable if weather cancels the trip. Contact Crystal Dawn at 
(252) 473-5577 or 
You can reach the roost by private boat using the nearby public ramp.
Roost Talk
The CCPMS schedules sunset talks at the observation pier during the height of the roosting season, weather permitting. 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. The sessions planned for July 25, July 30, Aug. 1 and Aug. 6 have been postponed. Or make special arrangements (at least 2 days notice) by contacting us:
or on Facebook.