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The Purple Martins of Lake Murray
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Bombing Range Island, in the middle of Lake Murray, was used for target practice during WWII by "Dolittle's Raiders", who later became famous for their attack on Japan which helped to bring an early end to the war. 

Also known as Doolittle Island or Lunch Island, it is North America's first officially designated Purple Martin sanctuary.  No one is sure why, but thousands and thousands of Purple Martins come to roost on this island on Lake Murray every summer evening.  This has become one of Lake Murray's major attractions, with up to a hundred or more boats converging around the island to watch this amazing spectacle just before dusk. 

Although the birds begin their roosting in June, the peak time is late July and throughout August. In September the birds begin returning to South America for their winter hibernation.

Purple Martins are a member of the swallow family.  Since their diet consists of flying insects, they are a welcome guest for people who live on or around Lake Murray.  Many people construct Purple Martin houses (many times just clusters of gourds) to attract these birds and control mosquitos.  It is said that a yard with a nest of Purple Martins is a mosquito-free yard!

Come one evening, and see the sky filled with thousands of Purple Martins over beautiful Lake Murray!   If you don't own a boat, many companies on Lake Murray will rent one for a few hours or the day, or you can take one of the frequent Purple Martin sightseeing cruises.  There are several fishing guides who are also happy to provide a personalized evening on the lake.

Below is a radar image of over 700,000 purple martins leaving their roost on Bomb Island in the middle of Lake Murray. The image was captured by researchers at Clemson University using their NEXRAD system.
Martins Radar

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