Free and Sovereign State of Campeche

Buff-bellied Hummingbird Amazilia yucatanensis ©Jacob Roalef Website

Campeche is one of the 31 states which, with Mexico City, make up the nation of Mexico. It is located in southeast Mexico, bordered by the states of Tabasco to the southwest, Yucatán to the northeast, Quintana Roo to the east, Guatemala to the south and by Belize to the southeast. It has a coastline to the west with the Gulf of Mexico and covers around 57,000 km2

(over 22,000 square miles). The state capital, also called Campeche, is a World Heritage Site founded in 1540 as the Spanish began the conquest of the Yucatán Peninsula. Campeche was formerly part of the province of Yucatán. Much of the state’s recent economic revival is due to the discovery of petroleum offshore, which has made the coastal cities of Campeche and the almost as large second city Ciudad del Carmen important economic centres. The state has important Mayan and colonial sites; however, these are not as well-known or visited as others in the Yucatán. It has a population approaching one million people, around a quarter of whom live in the capital.

Campeche is a relatively flat area of Mexico with 523 km (325 miles) of shoreline. Most of the surface is of sedimentary rock, much of it of marine origin. The area with the highest elevations is near the borders with Guatemala and Quintana Roo. Notable elevations include Cerro Champerico, Cerro los Chinos, Cerro El Ramonal, Cerro El Doce, and Cerro El Gavilán. However, these hills are separated by large expanses of lower flat land. In the south of the municipality of Champotón begin a series of rolling hills known as the Sierra Alta or Puuc, which extend northeast to Bolonchen and then into the state of Yucatán. These have only an average altitude of between forty and sixty metres. Other areas of these rolling hills lie near the city of Campeche, the main ones known as Maxtum, Boxol and El Morro. Another set is called the Sierra Seybaplaya in the centre of the state.

Rainforest areas subdivide into a number of types which include perennial tall tree rainforest, semi perennial tall tree rainforest, deciduous medium height tree rainforest, semi-deciduous medium height tree rainforest, deciduous low height tree rainforest and semi-perennial low height tree rainforest. Away from the coast, these rainforests are interspersed with savannah areas and along the coast are accompanied by areas with sand dunes, mangrove wetlands and estuaries. The trees include a number of precious tropical hardwoods such as Red Cedar and Honduran Mahogany. Along the coastal areas, Coconut Palms and Royal Palms dominate.

Most of the state’s surface freshwater is in the south and southwest, with rivers, small lakes and estuaries. These diminish in the north where rainfall rapidly filtrates into the subsoil. The rivers in the south and southwest belong to various basins, with the largest being the Grijalva to which the Candelaria, Chumpán and Mamantal Rivers belong. The Chumpán River is an isolated river formed by the union of various streams. It runs north-south and empties in the Laguna de Terminos. The Candelaria River forms in Petén, Guatemala and runs north-south and empties into the Laguna de Pargos. The Mamantel River empties into the Laguna de Panlau. The Champotón River is in the centre of the state and empties into the Gulf of Mexico. The rest of the state’s streams flow only in the rainy season or are prone to course changes.

Champotón River – ©Sharon Hahn Darlin CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

The Laguna de Términos lagoon is located in the southwest of the state, near the border with Tabasco. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico only by the Isla del Carmen. It receives freshwater from most of Campeche’s rivers as well as saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico. The lagoon is ringed by smaller lakes and forms the most important lake-lagoon system in the country. These lakes include Atasta, Pom, Puerto Rico, El Este, Del Vapor, Del Corte, Pargos and Panlau. This system formed about five thousand years ago by the accumulation of sediment carried by surrounding rivers. This system connects to the Sabancuy estuary to the northeast.

Campeche is in the tropics; it has a humid climate, with a defined rainy season, and a relatively dry season from late winter to early spring. Average annual rainfall varies between 900 and 2,000 mm. The hottest and most humid areas of the state are along the coast between the Laguna de Términos and the northern border. Average annual temperature is 26 °C with highs up to 36 °C in the summer and lows of 17 °C in the winter. Prevailing winds are from the northwest from November to March, from the north between September and October, from the southeast from June to August and from the south in April and May. In the winter, storms from the north called “nortes” can bring colder dry air from the area of the United States. In the late summer, there are sometimes hurricanes.

Wildlife species in the state include Jaguar, Ocelot and Puma, with various deer, Spider Monkeys and other mammals. Reptiles include various species of snake, tortoises, turtles, iguanas, and crocodiles. While still rich in wildlife, agriculture and the exploitation of forest resources is destroying habitat and uncontrolled hunting is a continuing threat to wildlife. Most of the state’s aquatic life is exploited commercially. Only around 3% of the land is used for raising crops, although rather more is used for cattle and other livestock.

Birding Campeche

There are many bird species in the state from storks to chachalaca, quail to toucans & parrot species depending on the habitat.

Campeche has four protected areas: the Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, the Laguna de Términos Reserve, Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve, and the Los Petenes Biosphere Reserve. The Calakmul Reserve covers over 720.000 hectares and consists of Yucatán and Tehuantepec moist forests, containing high and medium growth semi-deciduous forests and seasonally flooded low height semi-deciduous forests. There is also aquatic vegetation. The Laguna de Términos Reserve includes the lagoon and the area surrounding it with an area of over 700,000 hectares. Los Petenes is a much smaller (382 hectares) natural reserve consisting of isolated pockets of rainforest with mangrove areas in between. The wildlife is dependent on a varied and complex system of fresh and brackish water.

Top Sites
  • BR Calakmul

    WebpageSatellite View
    Calakmul Biosphere reserve is also an area accepted by UNESCO as a natural heritage site. It has more than 1.7 million acres and it is the second largest protected area of Mexico. It is compose basically of a jungle area connecting with the jungle of Guatemala representing the second largest jungle in America after the Amazon.Calakmul has just recently started to been studied. There is not a lot of information on the reserve and the number of species, nevertheless it is known by the abundance and diversity of species that can be seen in the area. There are several groups working in the area such as WWF and Pronatura. A trip to the reserve early in the morning can provide you with a good cross section of bird species as well as other animals of the area.
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 521

    (As at April 2024)
  • Avibase

    PDF Checklist
    This checklist includes all bird species found in Campeche , based on the best information available at this time. It is based on a wide variety of sources that I collated over many years. I am pleased to offer these checklists as a service to birdwatchers. If you find any error, please do not hesitate to report them.
  • eBird

    329 species (+62 other taxa) - Year-round, All years
Useful Reading

  • Mexico: Birds – Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche

    | By Robert Dean & Mark Wainwright | Rainforest Publications | 2012 | Unbound | 13 pages, colour illustrations, 1 colour map | ISBN: 9780984010745 Buy this book from
  • Mexico: Butterflies – Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche

    | By Jannah Brown & Enrique Leal C | Rainforest Publications | 2012| Unbound | 13 pages, colour illustrations, 1 colour map | ISBN: 9780984010752 Buy this book from
  • Mexico: Mammals – Quintana Roo, Yucatan, Campeche

    | By Mark Wainwright | Rainforest Publications | 2012 | Unbound | 13 pages, colour illustrations, 2 colour maps | ISBN: 9780984010721 Buy this book from

Abbreviations Key

  • BR Calakmul Biosphere Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    Calakmul Biosphere Reserve is one of the largest protected areas in Mexico, covering more than 14 percent of Campeche State in the Yucatan Peninsula…
  • BR Laguna de Términos

    InformationSatellite View
    Laguna de Términos is the largest tidal lagoon by volume located entirely on the Gulf of Mexico, as well as one of the most biodiverse.
  • BR Los Petenes Biosphere Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    Los Petenes Biosphere Reserve (Spanish: Reserva de la Biosfera Los Petenes) is a biosphere reserve in Mexico. It is located on the western Yucatán Peninsula in the state of Campeche. The reserve is home to extensive mangrove wetlands, and rich in birds and other wildlife.
  • BR Ría Celestún Biosphere Reserve

    InformationSatellite View
    The reserve covers an area of 814.82 square kilometres (314.60 sq mi). It is bounded on the west by the Gulf of Mexico. It adjoins Los Petenes Biosphere Reserve to the south, and El Palmar State Reserve to the north
  • NP IBA Svorpion Reef

    InformationSatellite View
    Designated a national park, the reef is part of the Campeche Bank archipelago and is the largest reef in the southern Gulf of Mexico. It contains five main vegetated islands: Isla Pérez, Isla Desertora, Isla Pájaros, Isla Chica, and Isla Desterrada. Isla Pérez is the only inhabited island and includes a lighthouse. The reef, including its islets and surrounding waters, has been recognised as an Important Bird Area (IBA) by BirdLife International because it supports a population of magnificent frigatebirds.
Guides & Tour Operators
Trip Reports
  • 2023 [03 March] - Mike Moore - Yucatan Peninsula

    PDF Report
    ...As we drove the road to the gate in the dark in the early morning, we stopped several times, managing to hear Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl and Yucatan Nightjar. Once it became light, we spotted Ruddy Quail-Dove, Barred ForestFalcon and Keel-billed Toucan, amongst others, along the road. At the archeological site, the tropical forest holds some interesting species, and we found Eye-ringed Flatbill, Yucatan Flycatcher and White-bellied Wren...

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