City Nature Challenge

City Nature Challenge

Join Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium as we unite forces across Omaha to identify and count plants and animals that live among us. 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. 
 
For the past five years, Omahans have cataloged the wildlife in our city in April during the event called City Nature Challenge. The City Nature Challenge is an annual, global, community science competition to document urban biodiversity. The challenge is a BioBlitz that engages residents and visitors to find and document plants, animals, and other organisms living in urban areas. Last year more than 419 cities from all over the world counted species over the four-day event with Cape Town, South Africa taking home top honors for most biodiversity. 
 
For the last two years COVID-19 provided us with a new CHALLENGE - staying safe and healthy! We've banded together with other cities across the world to "embrace the healing power of nature and encourage the collaborative aspect of the CNC. This will allow people to safely document biodiversity in whatever way they can, even from the safety of their own homes if necessary."
 
This year, we still are feeling effects of COVID-19, but have embraced the new normal of both virtual and in-person events. Keep checking back here for updates on events coming up! As for right now, head to iNaturalist to sign up and get involved with our 2022 City Nature Challenge. See below on a quick link for signing up and information on iNaturalist. 
 
You can find us at Omahazoo with the project name "City Nature Challenge 2022: Omaha Metro Area." 
 
As always, we encourage all of you to follow the public health guidelines provided by the Douglas County Health Department and Centers for Disease Control. Individual safety and public health are our utmost priority.  

 

                               

iNaturalist Sign-Up 

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.

City Nature Challenge 2022: Omaha Metro Partners

                                           

Nebraska Wildlife Rehab // Mulhall’s // Heron Haven Wetland Sanctuary

Saturday, April 30th | 10a.m.-12p.m.
11809 Old Maple Rd, Omaha, NE
Come walk the trails of the beautiful Heron Haven Wetland Sanctuary and meet expert naturalists from across the city as you observe and learn about the birds, insects, plants, and more – living right here in our city.

Fontenelle Forest

Sunday, May 1st 1:00p.m.-4:00p.m.
Fontenelle Forest Nature Center, 1111 Bellevue Blvd. N., Bellevue, NE  68005
Come search out a variety of wildlife, plants, and fungi for City Nature Challenge 2022 at Fontenelle Forest! We will have various information stations set up around the Nature Center plaza with knowledgeable volunteers ready to inform you about the plants and animals you may discover during your trip. There will also be a raptor specialist on hand to educate visitors about these awesome birds of prey. This event is free with paid admission to Fontenelle Forest. No advanced registration is required.

Omaha Public Library

Join Omaha’s Public Library for special City Nature Challenge Storytime’s located at various branches.  Read books about nature, sing songs, and learn how to identify plants and animals found in the wild. Explore the early literacy skills of singing, playing, reading, talking, and writing in each Storytime. Click here to find which City Nature Challenge Storytime to attend!

City of Omaha Parks, Recreation, and Public Property

Participate in City Nature Challenge as part of the 2022 Omaha Parks Challenge!! Click here for more details.
 

NEW! CNC Across Nebraska 

For the first time we are teaming up with cities across Nebraska to collaborate for this years City Nature Challenge! There will be opportunities to join virtual events, have acess to educator resourses, and even earn prizes. Please see the link below to visit the landing page and learn about what's going on in each city. 
 
 
 
 

 

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

 

 

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 2021 Flyer

City Nature Challenge 2021 Post Card

iNaturalist Logo

iNaturalist short Logo