Purple Martins, Ospreys and Sunset on Lake Murray, SC

On 7/15/2021, we took a sunset tour on Lake Murray starting in Lexington, SC to observe the purple martins on Bomb Island. This small (12-acres) uninhabited island on the lake, also known as Doolittle island was used to plan and practice bombing air raid on Japan during World War II. Today it is protected. Every summer from July through August, over 800,000 purple martins flock to the island to roost. Combined with the gorgeous Lake Murray sunset, this is quite a phenomenal treat !

Before Bomb island Captain Zack stopped near an Osprey’s nest. We saw two “teen” baby Ospreys along with their mama. I was delighted to see one of the babies fly over us. He seemed as big as his mama.

After the Ospreys, we were on our way to see the Purple Martins. These birds are not exactly purple, males’ plumage is rather a shiny navy blue with some black whereas females are mostly dark gray with very little blue. They are a type of swallow. They feed on flying insects that they catch during flight.

Over the years they have transitioned completely from nesting in the wild to nesting in gourds set up by people in their yards like the one in this photo I snapped on the lake. They tend to return to the same nesting site in the spring year after year. The young leave their nest after about 28 days.

References Bomb Island, SC Picture Project, Discover SC, Purple Martins on All about Birds

Purple Martins


Lake Murray Sunset

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