Purple Martin (Progne subis)



  • BC: Blue – S3S4B (2022)
  • COSEWIC: Not ranked
  • SARA: Not Ranked
  • Global: Secure (2016)
  • Galiano Island Status: Confirmed


Purple martins are the largest swallows in North America, with a body length of about 17 to 20 centimetres – about half as large again as other swallows in the region. The birds are agile hunters and eat a variety of winged insects.


Martins make their nests in cavities, either natural or artificial. In many places, humans put up real or artificial hollow gourds, or houses for martins, especially in the east, where purple martins are almost entirely dependent on such structures.


The purple martin migrates to The Amazon Basin in winter. Its winter range extends into Ecuador but does not seem to ascend far up the Andean foothills.


Threats to the species are introduced birds (House Sparrows and European Starlings) that steal their nests, removal or loss of nesting locations, and insecticides devastating insect populations on which they feed.

Galiano Status

A migratory population is established on Galiano Island, but is dependent on artificial nest boxes.

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