Every night from July through August 100,000 purple martins converge on the Old Mann’s Harbor bridge (officially known as the William B. Umstead Memorial Bridge) just on the other side of Manteo. This roost is so large that their morning flight can be seen on radar, as thousands of birds take to the sky to feed over the coastal plain.
Want to see it for yourself? You can watch the purple martins spectacle with a martin expert on Thursday evenings, July 18 and July 25 at 7:30 pm, and again on Thursdays, August 1 and August 8 at 7:15 pm. The Coastal Carolina Purple Martin Society hosts the sessions at the Betty Dean “Bebop” Fearing Memorial fishing pier and observation platform near the western end of the bridge.
Or you can climb aboard the Crystal Dawn headboat. Sunset cruise tickets for these same evenings are $30 per person. The tour leaves from Pirates Cove Marina between Nags Head and Manteo at 6 p.m. and returns at approximately 9:30 p.m. It is subject to cancellation due to weather or low reservations. For tickets and more information, contact the Crystal Dawn at 252-473-5577.