City Nature Challenge: LA Represents

Did you snap and submit a photo of a tree or critter in mid-April? You're in good company.

If you saw someone wielding a camera around the middle of April, well... You were probably out in public, among people, where camera-wielders, whether they're posing for selfies or styling food shots, are pretty common nowadays.

But if the camera you spied was pointed at a squirrel, or a shrub, or a particularly exotic bird of paradise bloom, you may have seen a neighbor participating in the 2017 City Nature Challenge.

The 16-city fresh-air showdown asked wildlife mavens to head outside and snap their urban wildlife, trees, mushrooms, and flowers. After the perfect picture was obtained? The citizen scientist would then send it into iNaturalist.

To help out, a number of science-centered institutions, including our own Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, joined in, all to broaden the city dweller's sense of the critters that live nearby and the plants that bloom not out in the forest but right next door.

So how'd everyone do during the April 14 through 18 event? The results are in, and Los Angeles more than represented. In fact, our region saw some 1,024 citizen scientist participants, "the most of any participating city," with 18,316 observations submitted from our area alone.

To give some perspective, there were 4,051 citizen scientists nationally, meaning nature-lovin' LA participants made up an impressively large slice of join-inners.

Some "2,030 species were documented" in and around Los Angeles during the challenge. The top five most-observed species? Get ready: western fence lizard, fox squirrel, honey bee, milk snail, and the house sparrow.

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Would you have named that quintet as the most common, or likely to be seen, around Los Angeles and its environs? Have you ever seen all five in a single day? 

Or in a single snapshot?

Okay, that's incredibly unlikely, and a bit too whimsical, even for the movie-making capital of the world. But the City Nature Challenge reveals to us that an impressive range of beasties, big and small, truly are thriving just beyond our front doors, even in our asphalt-and-steel megalopolis.

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