City Nature Challenge

City Nature Challenge

City Nature Challenge 2023

April 28 - May 1  Observation

May 2 - May 7  Identification

May 8  Final Results

 

What is the City Nature Challenge (CNC)?

It's an annual friendly competition among cities all over the world to seek and document plants and wildlife over an extended weekend.  The first-ever Citizen Science Day was in 2016 where teams at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences dreamed up the CNC as a fun way to capitalize on their home cities’ friendly rivalry and hold an event around urban biodiversity. The first CNC was an eight-day competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco, engaging residents and visitors in documenting nature to better understand urban biodiversity. In 2017 the CNC went national, and in 2018, the CNC became an international event. CNC has since reached over 1 million observations and close to 500 cities worldwide.
 

Why Participate? 

There is nature all around us, even in our cities! Knowing what species are in our metro area and where they are helps us study and protect them, but the ONLY way to do that is by all of us - scientists, land managers, and the community - working together to find and document the nature in our area. By participating in the CNC, not only do you learn more about your local nature, but you can also make your city a better place - for you and other species!  For instance, the Omaha Metro research-grade data from 2018 – 2022 CNCs was used in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. This means that scientists, governments, non-profits, and people wanting to make a different saw and used our data. 

How Can You Participate? 

Join Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium staff and vounteers as we unite forces across the metro. This is our chance to get to know the plants, animals and fungi that are in our backyards, our parks, and our neighborhoods to better understand how our lives affect the ecology around us. There are four options to get involved:
 
  1. Ways to Participate: Promote the Challenge - Advertise the challenge to your school, club, work, or church. Recruit new organizations to participate and form teams to be ready to observe on April 28th.
  2. Ways to Participate: Make Wildlife Observations - Get Outside! Make observations from midnight (12:01 am) April 28th to midnight (11:59 pm) May 1st. Upload photographs of birds, frogs, bugs, plants, grass, etc.  INaturalist will help you identify what you don't know and log all your observations in project City Nature Challenge 2023 - Omaha Metro.  
  3. Ways to Participate: Host an Event - Have a Green Space or picnic spot? Organize a staff walk or meditation during CNC 2023 and get your co-workers out of the office and participate in observing. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium will be hosting events on our website so that the general public can find open events in their area. Contact Pam Eby (pamela.eby@OmahaZoo.com) with event dates, time, location and info will be posted for public events. Private events are welcome too and do not have to be posted on the website. 
  4. Ways to Participate: Identify Species - Unable to participate in CNC2023 or busy over the weekend? Help us identify species from Tuesday, May 2 through Sunday, May 7. Host an identification party or go on-line with friends to iNaturalist City Nature Challenge 2023 Omaha Metro and verify species using your knowledge or guidebooks, or websites.  Wildlife experts, enthusiasts, and nature lover’s welcome!
 
                                   
 
 
 
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Pam Eby, Education Program Manager - Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium 
  

What is iNaturalist?

One of the world's most popular nature apps, iNaturalist helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over 400,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature! What's more, by recording and sharing your observations, you'll create research quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.

How to Create Your Own Account?

  • Visit iNaturalist.org
  • Download the app from the AppStore or Google Play
  • Sign in
  • Start sharing your observations
  • Get feedback from actual scientists, experts, and other naturalists

 

Participating is easy! All you have to do...

Find Wildlife

It can be any plant, animal, fungi, slime mold or other evidence of life, such as scat, fur, tracks, shells and carcasses, found in your participating city.

*Zoo animals are included but must be marked as "Cultivated".

*Pets and potted plants can be included but must be marked as "Cultivated". 

*Recently planted flowers or trees can be included but must be marked as "Cultivated". 

*Flowers or Trees that have rebloomed or grown during their second season are considered "Wild". 

Take a Picture of What You Find

Be sure to note the location of the plant or critter.

Share Your Observations

By uploading your findings through iNaturalist or your city's chosen platform.

Download the free iNaturalist app on Apple's App Store or Google Play for Android.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the City Nature Challenge?

Invented by citizen science staff at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and California Academy of Sciences. The City Nature Challenge is an international effort for people to find and document plants and wildlife in cities across the globe. It’s a bioblitz-style competition where cities are in a contest against each other to see who can make the most observations of nature, who can find the most species, and who can engage the most people.

How it got started?

Started in 2016 for the first-ever Citizen Science Day, the citizen science teams at NHMLA and CAS dreamed up the City Nature Challenge as a fun way to capitalize on their home cities’ friendly rivalry and hold a citizen science event around urban biodiversity. The first City Nature Challenge was an eight-day competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco, engaging residents and visitors in documenting nature to better understand urban biodiversity. Over 20,000 observations were made by more than 1000 people in a one-week period, cataloging approximately 1600 species in each location, including new records for both areas. During the 2016 CNC, we heard so much excitement and interest from people in other cities that we decided we couldn’t keep to the fun just to ourselves. In 2017 the City Nature Challenge went national, and in 2018, the CNC becamne an international event!

Why participate in the City Nature Challenge?

There is nature all around us, even in our cities! Knowing what species are in our city and where they are helps us study and protect them, but the ONLY way to do that is by all of us - scientists, land managers, and the community - working together to find and document the nature in our area. By participating in the City Nature Challenge, not only do you learn more about your local nature, but you can also make your city a better place - for you and other species!

Who can participate in the challenge?

Anyone and everyone can participate! The Omaha-Metro Area is participating and will be using the iNaturalist app, free to download on Apple's App Store and Google Play for Android, to track and record its findings.

To see if a city is participating near you, visit CityNatureChallenge.org.

Where can I spot wildlife in the Omaha-Metro?

Anywhere nature can be found. Due to Covid-19, please follow safe distancing guidelines.  For this year we want you to do a community event and document what is in your neighborhood, your backyard, your streetcorner.  Let's really find out what Omaha is all about!

Please note: Pets can be included but must be marked as "Cultivated" in the observations. This will be the case when visiting other attractions and wildlife organizations. Plants and animals that are part of an exhibit are "Cultivated". 

What other cities are participating?

More than 450 cities worldwide will be competing to see who can make the most observations of nature, find the most species and engage the most people.

 

Click for a Complete List of Cities Participating

Can we search for plants and animals on Zoo grounds?

This year the Zoo will be closed due to Covid-19.  Please plan on joining us next year for CNC 2021: Omaha Metro. 

For this year we want you to do a community event and document what is in your neighborhood, your backyard, your streetcorner.  Let's really find out what Omaha is all about!

What species can I spot on or around my neighborhood?

Many! See below for a list of species you might find.

Anywhere nature can be found. Due to Covid-19, please follow safe distancing guidelines.  For this year we want you to do a community event and document what is in your neighborhood, your backyard, your streetcorner.  Do you have a neighborhood pond? Check out the list below with some great pond inhabitats that you can find! Let's really see what Omaha is all about!

Please note: Pets can be included but must be marked as "Cultivated" in the observations. This will be the case when visiting other attractions and wildlife organizations. Plants and animals that are part of someones home are "Cultivated". 

Amphibians

  • American toad
  • Painted turtle
  • Plains leopard frog
  • Cope's gray tree frog
  • Woodhouse toad

Insects

  • Roly poly
  • Earthworms
  • Ants
  • Mosquitos
  • Box elder bugs
  • Ticks
  • Caddisfly
  • Lady bird beetle
  • Click beetle
  • Lacewing
  • Eastern velvet ant (cow killer)

Plants

  • Burr oak
  • Sycamores
  • Kentucky coffee trees
  • Eastern redbuds

Birds

  • Cardinal
  • American robin
  • Mallard
  • Canada goose
  • Belted kingfisher
  • Starling
  • Sparrow
  • Mourning dove
  • Green heron
  • Wood duck
  • Cooper's hawk
  • Chickadee
  • Blue jay
  • Crow
  • Carolina wren
  • House wren
  • Hairy woodpecker
  • Downy woodpecker
  • Red-fronted woodpecker
  • Rarely pilated woodpecker
  • Ruby-throated hummingbird
  • Harris sparrow
  • Chipping sparrow
  • Indigo bunting
  • Goldfinch
  • Bald eagle
  • Turkey vulture
  • Red-tailed hawk
  • Common yellow throat
  • Yellow-rumpled warbler
  • Tennessee warbler
  • Wild turkey
  • Red wing blackbird
  • Catbird
  • Grackle
  • Baltimore oriole
  • Rose-breasted grosbeak
  • Scarlet tanager

 

 

What kinds of events have been held in the past?

Events held in the past include, but not limited to:
  • Stream monitoring and fish sampling
  • Students making observations around their school's campus
  • School field trips to monitor wetland plants
  • Library presentation with a guided walk
  • Trash/debris cleanups while making wildlife observations along the way
  • Tree planting with exploration of nearby park space
  • Bird walk
  • Expert-led guided hike
  • Engaging Zoo and Aquarium visitors in walks around the campous
  • BioBlitz

Do we need wildlife experts to host an event?

Nope! all skill levels are welcome to participate. If you don't know a species, iNaturalist can help. Just upload a photo and the app can usually identify it or you can take an educated guess. During the Identification week we will be going over the observations. 

My work wants to host an event but does it have to be open to the public?

No - events can be just for your employees if your business would prefer! 

For Organizations

Free Resources

Educator's Toolkit

Welcome Omaha-Metro Educators! The City Nature Challenge is a great way to explore life science concepts, apply science skills in the field and connect students with a global community of biodiversity observers. Here, you can access the international education toolkit and find free local resources to prepare your students to participate in the City Nature Challenge for the Omaha-Metro Area.
 

Access Toolkit

Looking to Host Your Own Event in the Omaha-Metro Area?
Here are some free materials for you to use to promote your efforts.
 

City Nature Challenge 2023 Flyer

City Nature Challenge 2023 Post Card

iNaturalist Logo

iNaturalist short Logo

 

What will I need to know to host an event?

Please send Pam Eby (pamela.eby@OmahaZoo.com) your event date, time and location so that she can put the information on the website. If you wouldl like a logo on the website, please send that as well. 

If you would like to be a City Nature Challenge Partner Organization?

Partner Organizations help with the coodination and advertising of the City Nature Challenge 2023 - Omaha Metro. Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium will host the event on our website and social media, as well as put out press releases, and be the lead on monthly conference calls between the international organizers and local organizers. 
 
Local Partner Organizers are asked to continue the coordination and advertising by hosting events, if they can, posting events, and addending local monthly conference calls about the challenge.  Partners can also spread the word about the event and challenge like-minded organizations in the area to participate. 
 
If you are interested in becoming a Partner Organization please contact:
Pam Eby 
Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquaruim - Education Program Manager, WSP & Overnight Experiences
pamela.eby@OmahaZoo.com
402-738-2049