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City Nature Challenge 2024

Back for the sixth year, Calgary will compete and collaborate with over 500 cities from around the world to document urban biodiversity like never before. Cities will compete to see which can make the most observations, document the most species, and engage the most people.

April 26 – April 29

 Document wild plants and animals by taking photos or making audio recordings.

Then upload them to or the iNaturalist app. 

April 30 – May 5

Upload all your observations to iNaturalist and help to identify posts made by others.

May 6

Local, National, Global results announced.

Why Participate:

There is nature all around us! 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!

Where to Participate:


Calgary Metropolitan Region:

Calgary, Cochrane, Airdrie, Chestermere, Okotoks, High River, Foothills County, Rocky View County

How to Participate:

Get outside April 26-29 and take photos of plants, animals, birds, insects, lichens, mosses, fungi, fish... etc. etc. etc. 

Then upload your observations to iNaturalist (App or Desktop) before midnight May 5.

2024 Participating Cities:

Explore the map to see which cities Calgary is up against in the 2024 City Nature Challenge.

Cities are ranked on:

  1. The number of observations made

  2. The number of species documented

  3. The number of people who participate!



  • Important Dates:
    Make and share observations: April 26 – April 29 All observations made starting on April 26 at 12:00 AM MST and up until April 29 at 11:59 PM will count for the City Nature Challenge. Get all your observations uploaded and work on identifying: April 30 – May 5 Deadline to submit observations is 11:59 PM MST on May 5. Results announced: May 6
  • What is the City Nature Challenge (CNC) and how does it work?
    Started in 2016 for the first-ever Citizen Science Day, the community science teams at NHMLA and California Academy of Sciences dreamed up the City Nature Challenge as a fun competition between Los Angeles and San Francisco. It has since grown into one of the world's largest citizen science events with hundreds of cities "competing" and collaborating to engage people in documenting nature to better understand urban biodiversity. The event takes place over four days with cities aiming to achieve the highest number of observations (posts made to iNaturalist), document the most species, and engage the most people. Calgary has been involved since 2019 and has been among the top contributing Canadian cities in terms of observations and participation.
  • How can I participate in the City Nature Challenge?
    All you need is a camera in hand, whether it be your phone or a digital camera. Take photos of wild flora and fauna in your yards, neighborhoods, and favorite parks between April 26-29, and then post them to iNaturalist (either using the app or via desktop) before the deadline of midnight on May 5. You can explore on your own, with your friends, family, or class, or take part in one of the several public events being offered in and around the Calgary Metropolitan Region.
  • Tips on Making Quality Obsevations for iNaturalist:
    The photos you take during the City Nature Challenge are there to provide evidence of the organism you saw, and to help confirm the identification of that organism. Therefore, taking good photos is key to participating in the CNC! Here are some tips to taking photos: Focus on one species in each photo: While a meadow full of wildflowers is beautiful, it’s not the best photo for an observation, as there are probably many species represented in that one shot! As much as possible, try to have the one species you’re interested in as the focus of your photo, by getting close and centering your organism in the frame. Use the option to have multiple photos in one observation: On iNaturalist and on some of the other platforms, you can have more than one photograph for each observation you make, allowing you to photograph different parts or angles of an organism. For example, one photograph of an entire tree, taken from far away, won’t be very useful in identifying that species of tree, but that “full shot” photo, combined with other photos that show close ups of the leaves, the bark, and any flowers or fruits, will allow that tree to be identified. Discard blurry photographs: Be sure to use the option to retake photos when making observations! If the organism moved or there is low light, causing the photograph to be blurry, retake the picture but wait for the organism to be still or turn on your flash. On iNaturalist, the app will show you the photo you took and ask you if you want to retry or if you’re OK with the photo. Get close: For small organisms in particular, like ants or aphids, getting a nice close-up shot is important for identification. While it can be difficult to take a good close-up shot using the camera of a smartphone, these days there are inexpensive clip-on macro lenses you can use with your phone to take great, focused pictures of small organisms or close-ups of features of other organisms, like a plant that has tiny flowers or the eyes of a spider. More resources available here.
  • What types of observations can I contribute during the City Nature Challenge?
    You don't need to go far to find incredible biodiversity in our region. We encourage people to document WILD organisms (please, no pets, people, or animals from the zoo). Explore your backyard and look for early spring plants (including weeds), lichens, and mosses, as well as insects, and of course, any mammals or birds visiting your yard. If you're more of the adventurous type, then head out to a park you've never visited. Look at nature in different ways and be open to discovery wherever you are! Every observation matters and helps us rank higher on the global stage!
  • What if I make an observation of something that isn't "WILD"?
    Check the "captive / cultivated" box prior to posting your observation. Do this when you make an observation and organism that is in a place where humans intended for it to be there. Examples of "Captive / Cultivated" observations include: Garden Plants Street Trees Butterfly in a Display Case Your "Captive / Cultivated" observations are still included in our local CNC iNaturalist project but please aim to target WILD organisms to help advance our understanding of our urban biodiversity. DO NOT SUBMIT: Images/ Audio recordings that you did not make AI-derived Images Photos of people or Pets More Information on "Captive / Cultivated" observations
  • Can I use the Seek app to make observations?
    Seek by iNaturalist is a great way to engage children and families in nature exploration because it does not automatically collect personally identifiable information about users. In order to use Seek to make observations for the City Nature Challenge, you must first login to Seek using your iNaturalist account. We made a short Instagram reel on how to add your Seek observations to iNaturalist that can be used during the City Nature Challenge.
  • Are there specific locations or areas where I should focus my observations during the City Nature Challenge?
    Yes. For your observations to count within the Calgary City Nature Challenge, your observations must be made within the Calgary Metropolitan Region.
  • How will I know if my observations have been added to the CNC Calgary Project?
    As long as your observations were made with the Calgary Metropolitan Region and observed between April 26-29, they are automatically included in the project. This includes any obscured observation made during the City Nature Challenge. We encourage you to join the local project and select the "Trust with Hidden Coordinates" button at the bottom of the page. This is by no-means required but it allows us to better analyze the results at the end of the year. Join the iNaturalist Project here.
  • How can I participate if I am not within the Calgary Metro Region boundaries?
    Luckily in Alberta we have the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, St. Albert, and Lethbridge all involved in the 2024 CNC! If you are nowhere near these areas and not willing to make the trip, you can join the global project and participate independently! Any observations you make April 26-29 will be included in the global project automatically. City Nature Challenge 2024: Global Project
  • How are the observations submitted and verified during the City Nature Challenge?
    When you are using the iNaturalist app or uploading your observations via, click the button that says "what did you see?". If you know what it is you saw, you can type in the name and add an identification. If you have no idea what you saw: iNaturalist has a sophisticated AI system that will make suggestions of what you saw. BUT the real magic happens after you've posted your observations online and the iNaturalist community confirms or improves the ID of your observations. When 2/3 of the identifications on your post have been confirmed by the iNat community, the status of your observations is changed to "Research Grade" meaning that your observation has scientific value that may advance research and conservation science. We love our identifiers and encourage you to assist in identifying observations made during the City Nature Challenge. Please only make IDs for posts where you can confidently confirm the taxon. Read more on how iNaturalist identifications work
  • Can I upload photos during the CNC that I took prior to the CNC?
    Only observations made during the City Nature Challenge will count towards Calgary's CNC entry. BUT please do add any photos of flora and fauna to iNaturalist as it can help inform researchers and decision makers on biodiversity. We love to see historical observations made in Calgary but consider adding photos from your travels around the world. iNaturalist is a global platform so use it to your advantage!
  • When should I obscure my observations?
    When you "obscure" an observation on iNaturalist, a 20x20 km polygon is used as a "buffer" around your observation's exact location. For each viewer of the post, a random location within that polygon is used. This can be beneficial if you have concerns about sharing private information (such as you're home, place of work, or school) or you have concerns about the welfare of a plant or animal. Any endangered or threatened species are automatically obscured when posted to iNaturalist. Use the obscure function only when needed. For example: common species found within our parks or even on the street do not need to be obscured.
  • Do I have to make observations using the app? What if I want to use a real camera?
    For iNaturalist, while it’s convenient to use the app to make observations, it’s fine if you want to use a digital camera. You can upload your observations using the Upload tool on iNaturalist, and if your camera doesn’t have a GPS, you can drop a pin to indicate where you made each observation. If you’re planning on making most of your CNC observations using a camera, we recommend watching this short video on how to best use iNaturalist’s Photo Uploader.
  • Can I help identify what people found during the CNC? What if I’m not an expert in anything?
    Yes! In the same way that anyone can be an observer, anyone can help identify observations. In iNaturalist, go to the Calgary project, click “Observations” and you’ll see an “Identify” button pop up just below it. Clicking this will take you to the iNaturalist Identify page and show you all of your city’s observations that still need to be identified. From this page, you can restrict what it shows you by taxon, which helps if you know how to ID certain groups. If you’re not an expert in any group, you can still help by identifying the “unknowns” – the observations with no IDs at all! Click the “Filters” button and then select the dashed-line leaf with a question mark in it. This will show you all the observations that are currently listed as “unknown.” It’s really helpful to go through these and add high-level IDs like “plants” or “insects” or “birds” or “fungi” – whatever you know about the organism – so that it can be easily found by people who do know how to ID these groups Here’s a short video about using the Identify page. Please only add an ID of which you can be reasonably sure – it’s fine if you don’t know what something is, and it’s fine to only add a genus or family or even kingdom level ID. If you have no idea, you can always just skip ahead! iNaturalist needs more identifiers and this is a great way to enhance your skills and knowledge of local flora and fauna while contributing to a global database of biodiversity information.
  • Can I participate in CNC by ONLY observing or ONLY identifying or do I have to do both to participate?
    You can participate as an observer, as an identifier, and both! If you have skills to share we want you to take part any way you can!

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