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      Purple Martins flock to Lake Murray

      LAKE MURRAY (WACH) -- From mid June to mid August Lake Murray's bomb island becomes home to Purple Martins.

      The Purple Martin is the largest North American swallow bird and is known for its aerial acrobats.

      "You're not going to find anything like this anywhere else in South Carolina and maybe in our surrounding states," said Lex Glover.

      Glover is with the Department Of Natural Resources, he says Bomb Island is North America's first Purple Martin sanctuary and one of the largest roosting sites.

      He says while researchers aren't sure how the birds ended up on Bomb Island, the lack of predators make it a great place for more than 500,000 birds to call home.

      "Usually they're coming in pretty high up you'll see a mass of birds way up in the sky and then they start dropping down and then they'll come in and start going around the island and sometimes they'll make multiple trips around the island before they start settling down for the night," adds Glover.

      Julie Hovis is a Purple Martin researcher and says the birds are very popular and depend on man made housing for nesting and there diet consists of insects.

      "They do not eat a lot of mosquitoes contrary to popular belief, there more likely to eat dragon flies and damsel flies," said Hovis.

      Researchers have learned with Geo locaters the birds can travel all the way to the Yucatan, in just two days.

      "They usually stay there for several days before they continue their migration down into Brazil and Central America," adds Hovis.

      Hovis says the tracking of the Purple Martins is the first time anyone's been able to track a birdâ??s migration.

      Every night you'll catch boaters dropping anchor to catch a glimpse of the Purple Martins flying to their summer home.

      "I think it's that connection with humans that is something that draws people out here to see these birds," concludes Glover.

      The Purple Martins are expected to leave Bomb Island in the middle of August and start their migration towards Brazil.