Categories
Distance Learning Young Naturalists Club

Observing with iNaturalist

Today, we’ll be showing you a way to take your nature observations a step further, by contributing them to a website used by scientists (and by nature-lovers like us!)

Using the app iNaturalist, you can share the cool things you find, and get help identifying what they are.  At Rural Action, we’ve been using iNaturalist to try to identify all we can in the Wayne National Forest. Because of it, we’ve found moths and a dragonfly that have never been recorded there before!

Who knows, maybe you’ll make a discovery yourself!

1.) Download the App

(or sign up on the website)

Go to wherever it is that you download your applications and search for “iNaturalist.”  Look for the green bird.

You must be over the age of 13 to have an account with iNaturalist, so you might have to ask your parents for help!  If you’re under 18, make sure to ask for your parents permission before downloading anything.

You can also use iNaturalist on a computer instead, at inaturalist.org

If you can’t use iNaturalist yourself, send your pictures to nate@ruralaction.org, and we will upload them for you!

2.) Make Observations

The basics of iNaturalist are this:  take pictures of cool things you find and do your best to identify them correctly!

Once you’ve created an account, logged in, and read through the tutorial, the app will bring you to a screen similar to this one.  Right now, the most important tab is in the bottom middle: Observe!

Check out the following images to get tips on how to make a good observation!

When you’re taking a picture of a plant, think of what parts would be important to see if you were trying to figure out what it is. Think about: the leaf shape, the number of leaves, the stem or trunk, and the flowers. Do your best to include as many of those things as possible in your picture. Or, better yet, take multiple pictures from different angles!

After you’ve take your pictures, iNaturalist will give you the option to identify the organism you’ve photographed. The app can help us make identifications, but it’s only guessing, and might be wrong.

Please do your best to figure out what you’ve found. Good resources could be: field guides, the internet (with caution), or parents or other members of your household!

If you really can’t figure it out, put it in the broadest category that you can be sure of, like “Mammal,” “plant,” or “tree.” If I wasn’t sure that this plant was chickweed, for example, I’d just identify it as “plant.”

3.) Get Out There!

Your mission today is to go out and make 5 different observations using iNaturalist.  You don’t have to know exactly what it is you’re observing, but give it a try.  Who knows, maybe you can’t figure out what it is because it doesn’t have a name yet, or has yet to be discovered!  Show us your observations down in the comments!

Here’s a photo of Dani making an observation for some inspiration:


And, if you’d like some tips from iNaturalist on how to take top quality nature photos, click here.

Thanks for joining us today!

-Nate

9 replies on “Observing with iNaturalist”

We found a lot of dandelions, including some that we didn’t know were different kinds of dandelions. We liked seeing how they could grow anywhere, like out of the pavement and even in the middle of a pond!

This is the smallest dandelion we’ve ever seen! At least, we’re pretty sure it’s a dandelion. We uploaded the photo to iNaturalist and we’re waiting for someone to tell us for sure.

Hmmm, interesting plant! I like how closely y’all looked, to find such tiny plants. Did anyone on iNaturalist offer a suggestion on what it was?

What does the South Jersey Chapter think: What makes it seem the same as a dandelion, and what about it seems different from a dandelion?

Well we saw that when the yellow petals were gone they turned into puff and then blew away. And the head that was left behind looks like a dandelion head. Also the leaves are pointy like a dandelion. iNaturalist said it’s common groundsel and we learned that is a cousin of a dandelion! And groundsel is sometimes called “old man of the spring” because its puffy seed petals look like an old man’s beard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The maximum upload file size: 64 MB.
You can upload: image, audio, video, document, spreadsheet, interactive, other.
Links to YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and other services inserted in the comment text will be automatically embedded.