Archived 2011-2012 topics: Sinaloa Martin (Progne sinaloae): list as Near Threatened?

Initial deadline for comments: 31 January 2012.

BirdLife species factsheet for Sinaloa Martin

Sinaloa Martin Progne sinaloae breeds in pine-oak forest and semi-open habitats at nine sites on the western slope of the Sierra Madre Occidental in Mexico. It still appears to occupy its traditional breeding range from Sonora to Michoacán, with recent records from Guerrero (Lethaby and King 2010). Breeding has been recorded historically in Sonora, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco and Michoacán; of these, it is still known to breed in Sinaloa and Jalisco (Lethaby and King 2010). It has been recorded on migration in Mexico and casually in Guatemala and Belize, but its wintering range, conservation status and population trends are unknown. For these reasons the species has been assigned to the category Data Deficient.

However, a comprehensive review of records by Lethaby and King (2010) suggests that there may be sufficient information available for an assessment of the species’s threat status against the IUCN criteria; indeed, the authors recommend that the species be listed as Endangered under criterion C2a(ii), with a declining population and fewer than 2,500 mature individuals remaining.

A number of rough indices can be used to infer a decline in population: as Lethaby and King (2010) point out, historical records typically comprised multiple specimens from a given location and include statements such as ‘common’, ‘quite a colony’, ‘up to 15’, and ‘up to 30’ that clearly indicate the existence of sizeable colonies, whereas recent records are usually of migrants in the lowlands, with the only definite breeding record being a colony of just 2–6 birds (Lethaby and King 2010). Lethaby and King (2010) consider it unlikely that the population numbers more than a few thousand, and based on current knowledge, a population estimate of fewer than 10,000 mature individuals may be realistic, potentially qualifying the species as Vulnerable under criterion C2a(ii).

Without sufficient information on the species’s sub-population structure, however, the species will most likely qualify as Near Threatened, based on the suppositions above. Information is thus requested on whether 90% or more of all mature individuals probably form one sub-population or alternatively the likely maximum number of mature individuals in the largest sub-population. For the purposes of Red List assessments, sub-populations are defined as geographically or otherwise distinct groups between which there is little or no demographic or genetic exchange, i.e. typically one successful migrant per year or less.

We would also welcome further estimates of the current population size, opinion on the evidence for a population decline and any further sightings.


Lethaby, N. A. and King, J. R. (2010) The current status of Sinaloa Martin Progne sinaloae. Cotinga 32: 90-95.

The following document was sent by Pronatura on 16 February 2012: Progne Sinaloae Pronatura Feb12

This entry was posted in Americas, Archive, Central America, North America, South America and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Archived 2011-2012 topics: Sinaloa Martin (Progne sinaloae): list as Near Threatened?

  1. Nick Lethaby says:

    Although Jon King may post directly on this, he has only intermittent access to e-mail as he is on an extensive 2-year birding trip to Central and South America. In 2010, Jon spent several months in W. Mexico during the summer. He saw the birds both at the Durango Highway and El Tuito sites (Rancho Primavera) in similar numbers to those listed in our paper. He also saw two birds along the coast of Michoachan at a new site.

  2. Joe Taylor says:

    The following comments were received from Jon King on 15 December 2011, before this topic was posted:

    Regarding Sinaloa Martin, I don’t feel that DD is appropriate any longer. What (relatively) little information is available is now summarised in the public domain in our Cotinga paper . . .

    In addition, I have a short note (with Michael Patten) forthcoming regarding two new records from Michoacan, only the second and third from that state, which suggest that there is another colony there somewhere (it is a large rugged state with very few paved roads, so finding it won’t be easy) . . .

    In our Cotinga paper we suggested EN status… The one thing that the data certainly suggest is that there has been a significant decline. The problem seems to be that we are not sure from what original level and to what new level. My suspicion, from time in the field in the range and season, is that we would know of more colonies if the population was anywhere close to 10,000 birds, and it is likely to be a few thousand individuals at best, perhaps many fewer. I am not certain if such a decline and population make VU more appropriate, but I think that should be considered.

  3. Myself, Pete Hosner and Mike Andersen saw a single male martin with a cleanly dilineated white belly we believed might have been a Sinaloa Martin in November 2004 at Lago Pomacochas in northern Peru. If our identification was correct, it could indicate this species winters in the northern Andes. We were unable to photograph the bird (all I have is a field sketch).

  4. Joe Taylor says:

    Pronatura have sent a document with information on this species, and this can be found just below the forum topic.

Comments are closed.