Marie McAden



Purple martin show on Lake Murray is an epic

Posted 8/9/2012 9:47:00 AM

It’s bigger than any Cecil B. DeMille epic, far surpassing Hollywood’s much-hyped “cast of thousands”.

The purple martin show, now playing in the Midlands, features nearly a million of the avian stars, appearing nightly over Lake Murray in a spectacle of nature only Mother Nature could produce.

Traveling up to 160 miles a day, the martins fly in from every direction to roost in the trees of Bomb Island, a spit of land in the middle of the lake used as target practice by the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders during World War II.

Billed as the largest purple martin sanctuary in North America, the island serves as the bird’s Motel 6. They check in just before dusk and check out at daybreak.

You can catch the phenomenon every evening through the end of August on Lake Murray, a 50,000-acre reservoir located just outside Columbia. Southern Patriot offers boat tours to Bomb Island from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Sundays and Mondays.

The tour aboard the 65-foot double-deck cruise boat is $31 and includes a picnic supper and narration about the purple martins. You’ll learn all about these aerial acrobats and how they wing it from South America each year to summer in South Carolina. For more information on the cruise, click here or call (803) 749-8594.

The 80-foot Spirit of Lake Murray also is offering 2 ½-hour purple martin dinner cruises Aug. 13 and 19 for $49. Call (803) 730-3044 or click here to make a reservation.

With either cruise, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a beautiful sunset on Lake Murray along with the bird show. If you have binoculars, be sure to bring them to get a close-up look at the swooping sparrows.