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Galapagos Martin Progne modesta
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The population size, structure and trends of this species are very poorly known. Total numbers are certainly very low and probably declining, and there may well be movement of birds between populations on different islands. It is unlikely that the total population exceeds 500 birds, with fewer than 250 mature individuals in each subpopulation, and is in decline. The species has therefore been uplisted to Endangered. Dedicated surveys are needed urgently, and may reveal that the species warrants uplisting to Critically Endangered on the basis of an even smaller population.

Taxonomic source(s)
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Taxonomic note
Progne modesta (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into P. modesta, P. murphyi and P. elegans following SACC (2005).

Distribution and population
Progne modesta occurs on the central and southern islands of the Galápagos Archipelago, Ecuador (on Fernandina, Isabela, Santiago, Pinzón, Daphne, Baltra and Seymour, Santa Cruz, Santa Fé, San Cristóbal, Española (no breeding recorded) and Floreana) (Turner and Rose 1989, Castro and Phillips 1996). It has been described as uncommon (Turner and Rose 1989), and the population is likely to number fewer than 1,000 individuals, and may be lower than 600 individuals (D. Wiedenfield in litt. 2004, A. Tye in litt. 2005). No more than 50 birds have been recorded at any one site (A. Tye in litt. 2005). The population is likely to have undergone a decline over the last 200 years (D. Wiedenfield in litt. 2004, A. Tye in litt. 2005), and this trend appears to continue, but current population trends are unconfirmed.

Population justification
D. Wiedenfield (in litt. 2004) considers the population likely to number fewer than 1,000 individuals, and possibly even fewer than 200. A. Tye (in litt. 2005) estimates the population to number c.600 individuals. Wiedenfield and Jiménez-Uzcátegui (2008) consider it likely to number much fewer than 500 individuals. It is placed in the band 250-999 mature individuals here, equating to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
Current population trends are unclear, but historical declines are probably continuing (A. Tye in litt. 2005, D. Wiedenfeld in litt. 2005, 2007, 2011, 2012, Wiedenfeld & Jiménez-Uzcátegui 2008, T. de Vries in litt. 2012, P. Grant in litt. 2012). Minimum counts of birds observed at Daphne Major Island since the 1970s indicate a decline here (P. Grant in litt. 2012).

It frequents forested areas, mountain tops (up to 970 m), shore and coastal lagoons with mangroves, and feeds around houses on Isabela (Turner and Rose 1989). However, recent information suggests that it is more restricted, with pairs or small groups seen around the highest peaks, but only occasionally in the lowlands (at sites with special characteristics, such as sheer sea cliffs) (A. Tye in litt. 2005). It nests between August and March, laying two or three white eggs in holes and crevices (Castro and Phillips 1996) lined with feathers (Harris 1982). It feeds on insects caught in flight (Turner and Rose 1989, Castro and Phillips 1996). It is not known to migrate (Turner and Rose 1989).

Little is known about the threats to this species. Past declines are likely to be due to introduced diseases and parasites, especially the parasitic botfly Philornis downsi, which occurs on all known breeding islands (Wiedenfeld et al. 2007), and introduced nest predators (e.g. rats Rattus) (D. Wiedenfield in litt. 2004, A. Tye in litt. 2005).

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known. Conservation Actions Proposed
Urgently carry out surveys for this species throughout its range, visiting all known or suspected strongholds, to develop accurate population estimates. Establish monitoring program to determine population trends. Carry out research to determine the reasons for its small population and any declines. Carry out actions to reduce any threats to this species (e.g. control of nest predators).

Castro, I.; Phillips, A. 1996. A guide to the birds of the Galápagos Islands. A&C Black, London.

Harris, M. P. 1982. A field guide to the birds of Galápagos. Collins, London.

Swash, A.; Still, R. 2000. Birds, mammals and reptiles of the Galápagos Islands. Wild Guides & Pica Press, Old Basing, U.K. & Robertsbridge, U.K.

Turner, A.; Rose, C. 1989. Swallows and martins of the world. Christopher Helm, London.

Wiedenfeld, D. A.; Jiménez, G. A.; Fessl, B.; Kleindorfer, S.; Valerezo, J. C. 2007. Distribution of the introduced parasitic fly Philornis downsi (Diptera, Muscidae) in the Galapagos Islands. Pacific Conservation Biology 13: 14-19.

Wiedenfeld, D. A.; Jiménez-Uzcátegui, G. A. 2008. Critical problems for bird conservation in the Galápagos Islands. Cotinga: 22-27.

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Gilroy, J., Harding, M., Sharpe, C J

Tye, A., Wiedenfeld, D., Grant , P., Young, G., de Vries, T.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Progne modesta. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 28/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Galapagos martin (Progne modesta) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Hirundinidae (Swallows and martins)
Species name author Gould, 1837
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 7,800 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species