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Bomb Island, Lake Murray, SC

This roost was last reported as inactive. This roost may no longer exist.

Roost Location:
Lexington, South Carolina, United States (Lexington County)
Approximate Coordinates:
 34.05850, -81.30977 (Google Map | MapQuest Map)
(Note: This is not a precise location!)
This roost was detected with NEXRAD Radar in 2004 and classified as Significant
The coordinates are the approximate center of the roost's radar signature.


Below are reports, most recent first, for this roost:
Reported By: Julie Hovis
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Reported: August 2014

Description of Roost's Location: No change.

Public Access to Roost?: Yes

History of Roost: The Lake Murray roost has been active for at least 25 years. Several hundred purple martins were observed at the site in early July but disappeared shortly after the 4th of July. I visited the site on 27 July 2014 and observed 5 purple martins. The martins apparently deserted Lake Murray and moved north to Monticello Reservoir in Fairfield County. The distance between the Lake Murray and the Monticello Reservoir roost sites is approximately 18.5 miles.

Description of Roost's Habitat: Bomb Island is approximately 10.8 acres as measured with Google Earth Pro. Mixture of shrubs and scattered pines.

Threats to/Problems with Roost: The reasons the roost was abandoned remain unclear. There has been a lot of speculation but no definitive answer.


Reported By: Suzanne Rhodes
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Reported: June 2009

Description of Roost's Location: no change

Public Access to Roost?: Yes

History of Roost: no change

Description of Roost's Habitat: no change except probably more foliage

Roost Begins Approximately: Mid-June

Roost Ends Approximately: Mid-August


Reported By: Louise Meyers
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Reported: May 2007

Estimate of Purple Martins Present: 1 million +

Description of Roost's Location: Bomb Island in the middle of Lake Murray

Public Access to Roost?: Yes

History of Roost: The birds have been roosting on bomb island since the 1980's and the roost gets larger every year.

Description of Roost's Habitat: The island has small trees and shrubs for the birds to roost. The island is 12 acres

Roost Begins Approximately: Early-July

Roost Ends Approximately: Mid-September

Threats to/Problems with Roost: An island in the middle of Lake Murray. No threats at this time.200-300 boats around the island at sunset does not seem to bother them.

Opportunities at Roost: The first purple martin sanctuary in the United States.When birds are roosting in the summer months, no one is allowed on the island. What makes the Lake Murray roosting site so cool is that people can only watch the birds departure and return by boat. When the birds leave in the morning, it is like an explosion and the local weather radar has said the image is larger than Hurricane Hugo was in 1989.


Reported By: Jim Beatson
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Reported: August 2005

Estimate of Purple Martins Present: 300,000-700,000

Description of Roost's Location: The roost is located on Lunch Island in the middle of Lake Murray (also known as Doolittle Island or Bombing Range Island) is North America's first officially designated Purple Martin sanctuary. It's only viewable by boat.

Public Access to Roost?: Yes

History of Roost: According to several articles, the roost has been building since the early 1990's. In 1996 was designated a Purple Martin Sanctuary by "...DNR, the Columbia Audubon Society and SCE&G." And protected. On page 4 of "The Purple Martin Update," Vol.14(3) Summer of 2005, there is a photo of this roost credited to none other than PMCA's James R. Hill III.

Description of Roost's Habitat: Description of the island from SC Wildife Magazine, July Aug. 2000: "Approx. a 12 acre island." Hardwood, pines and undergrowth and the martins even roost in the grass.

Threats to/Problems with Roost: Apparently this roost is stable. It is protected by DNR. When I last saw the roost the last week of July 2002, the audubon guide estimated between 300,000 and 400,000 martins.


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