Snailed It: Observe Nature During a Citywide Challenge

The Natural History Museum co-founded the citizen scientist event, which now includes dozens of cities around the globe.

What to Know

  • April 27-30
  • Submit your photos of animals and plants through the iNaturalist app
  • 500,000 nature observations are expected from all 2018 participants around the globe

There are millions of beautiful and startling facts woven through the natural world, but we'll take on two true things right here and now.

One? Nature and its song and its sights and its epic everythingness can be such a wonderful constant in our day-to-day lives that it can all become, at times, something of a background hum. 

Two? We must never let it be that.

Looking, really looking and listening and observing and thinking about what we're beholding, is key, and the City Nature Challenge, an around-the-globe event that the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles helped start, invites us, each year, to peer closer and think deeper.

That closer peering and deeper thinking will take place in 70 cities, including our own, from Friday, April 27 through Monday, April 30.

Citizen scientists who participate — that's you, of course — will snap photographs of wildlife, which can encompass "... any plant, animal, fungus, slime mold, or other evidence of life (scat, fur, tracks, shells, carcasses!) in Los Angeles County."

Absolutely, you'll want to remember where you saw the wonder of nature you came across, so jot that down, too.

Then you'll submit both the photo and the information, either through the free iNaturalist app, by texting 213-663-6632, by posting on social media with the hashtag #NatureinLA, or, you got it, emailing it (all that info can be found here).

A half million (!) observations are expected from around the planet in 2018, from Hong Kong and Minneapolis and Rome and London. And your own backyard, of course.

There are a few special outings around our area, helmed by NHMLA, over the run of the 2018 City Nature Challenge, so jump into one of those, if you want to be among other observers in a spectacular, nature-rich setting.

A Point Fermin BioBlitz and South Bay BioBlitz are both on the schedule of the challenge, which is scampering, squirrel-like, into its third year.

Okay, we admit it: We wanted to work in squirrels somehow, because they're plentiful around Southern California, as are crows and coyotes and those nighttime singers, the mockingbirds, and a host of other spectacular critters who share these stomping, er, scampering grounds, with we nature-amazed humans.

If you can't get enough of the City Nature Challenge, which was also founded by the California Academy of Sciences in addition to NHMLA (it started as a "friendly competition" between LA and San Francisco, all to engage local people with observing their natural surroundings), take heart: There's a follow-up period, over the first two days of May, when observers will gather to identify what they saw.

The May 1 happening is at NHMLA while the May 2 to-do will visit Angel City Brewery (there are some times/info for bringing kids to the brewery, so check it out).

These events aren't mandatory to join if you participate in the first part of the challenge, the picture-taking and submitting, do keep in mind. Just consider the follow-up gatherings as fantastic routes to knowing the world outside our door even better.

A world that can become a background blur, and hum, far too often. So keep those peepers trained on the tree branches, and under the camellia bushes, and on the beaches, for all signs of wildlife, from flowers to animal tracks to the critters kindly making a cameo for your camera.

And scat and slime mold, too.

If anyone asks what you're up to over the final weekend in April, tell them you're on the look-out for both scat and slime mold, all in the name of furthering community science.

They'll surely be jealous, and want to join in, too.

Copyright FREEL - NBC Local Media
Contact Us