MANNS HARBOR, N.C. — This travel advisory is for the birds.
North Carolina’s Transportation Department is reminding drivers of a lower speed limit on an Outer Banks bridge to protect purple martins, which roost annually on the span over the Croatan Sound.
The speed limit on the William B. Umstead Bridge in Manns Harbor is 20 mph at dusk and dawn to protect the more than 100,000 purple martins that roost on the west end of the bridge as they prepare for their annual migration to Brazil. The lower speed limit is in effect from mid-July through August, when DOT also activates flashing lights.
The birds roost under the bridge at night. They leave at dawn to feed and return at sunset. The flock is so large during its peak that it can be seen on Doppler radar.
The department works with the Coastal Carolina Purple Martin Society to protect the birds.
Visitors can go to Dare County’s multi-purpose pier at the west end of the bridge to view the birds. For those not interested in the birds, the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge is an alternate route over the sound.