Francis focused on the Hudsonian Godwit. Photo by: Mary Goodart

With 2020 in the rearview mirror, many of us were happy to say goodbye to the challenging year. It will undoubtedly be one for the history books, good, bad, and not so great…but we love those who found the time (and heart) to celebrate the beauty the year offered as well. Our good friend Francis Canto Jr, birder, and photographer extraordinaire is one of those gifted individuals who doesn’t let anything get in his way of loving the natural world around him. We were honored to feature his beautiful toucan photo (the national bird of Belize) on the cover of our September/October 2018 issue of My Beautiful Belize. We were super proud when in August 2020, the Belize Postal Service, in conjunction with the Belize Audubon Society, launched a series of 14 bird stamps titled “Resident Birds of Belize.” Each stamp featured one of Frances’s photos.

A few weeks ago, Frances posted his 2020 greatest hit’s bird list along with stunning photographs. He was more than happy to allow us to share these with our readers, who appreciate all things beautiful about Belize. Thank you, Frances, and we cannot wait to see your list for 2021!

Frances Canto Jr – January 1, 2021:
In 2020 before the pandemic hit I was fortunate enough to be able to bird and guide all over my beautiful Belize. I met a lot of great people, visited some amazing places, and photographed some cool birds. This I couldn’t have accomplished without my family, friends, and fellow birders. Here is a small sample of some of my favorite birds and photographs from 2020. I just want to wish all my family and friends near and far a Happy New Year!

The Arctic Tern, was probably my favorite bird from 2020 this being just the second record for Belize. Thanks to Robert Cooney for keeping the gates at Captain Hook’s Shrimp Restaurant, Bar & Pool open for us birders.


The Hudsonian Godwit, another mega rarity that showed up at Captain Hooks. Thanks to Philip Balderamos for sounding the alarm on this bird.


Self-found lifers are the best, it’s even better when it’s such a beautiful and rare bird here in Belize. The Elegant Euphonia. Barton Creek Outpost.


The Northern-beardless Tyrannulet gave me some amazing photo opportunities this year.


One of my favorite photos ever. An adult King Vulture soaring low at Slate Creek Lookout.


In 2020 I lead my first major multiday birding package along with Oscar E. Cisneros. The Raptors throughout the tour were spectacular, but none could top the looks we had of this White Hawk at St. Herman’s Blue Hole.


Golden Hooded Tanager at Mayflower Bocawina.


Portrait of the Jabiru while on the boat tour on the Crooked Tree Lagoon.


The Lovely Continga another one of the rarer birds found here in Belize. While birding along with Jamal, Zhawn, Julio, Lise, and Ed at El Pilar.


The Northern Emerald Toucanet, Toucan Ridge Ecology and Education Society (T.R.E.E.S.). Thanks, Mathieu and Vanessa for the endless hospitality.


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About the Author: Tamara Sniffin

I’m a sucker for a fuzzy face, a feathered face, a face with fins or even one with scales! I am in love with the creatures and the flora that are synonymous with Belize and every opportunity I have to learn more about them and explore their wild habitats I am there! I’m the happiest when I’m snorkeling the reef and swimming with turtles, however my passion is not just limited to critters! Laced throughout this compact jungle gem of a country live the Kriol, Maya, Garifuna, Mestizo and Spanish people, and experiencing each culture, especially their celebrations is one of my favorite pastimes.

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