City Nature Challenge

City Nature Challenge

City Nature Challenge 2020

April 24 - 27, 2020

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 three 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 (Wikipedia). Last year over 160 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. 

This year we would like to increase our biodiversity and our number of citizens that help us in these four-days of service. Over the past years Dandelions, Canada Geese and Red-Breasted Robins have been the most commonly found species in Omaha.  We know there are other unique species out there and would like to see what other creatures and plants are prevalent in Omaha.

Below are two ways you can sign up to be an active participants in the City Nature Challenge on April 24 through April 27, 2020.  

  1. Sign up as Individual Citizen Scientists and work in your backyard, neighborhoods or local community events and catalog your communitiy. Receive information emails and reminders on events happening in your area as well as tips on how to best record your data.  Sign up today and become a Citizen Scientist in Omaha!   
  1. Or sign up your busines as a Community Partner! The Omaha Zoo is looking for Partners to host community events during the four days to encourage the public to come outside and help record what is in Omaha. Partners will get their event posted on the Zoo's website and Facebook page as well as included in some advertising events and banners.   


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.

 Want to Practice? 

Click here for other Citizen Science programs that you can do ahead of time to get ready for CNC2020!

  • Backyard Wilderness
  • Track-A-Lilac
  • Monarch Tagging
  • Amphibian Conservation
  • Butterfly Conservation
  • Salamander Conservation
  • SECORE Conservation



Join Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium during City Nature Challenge 2020: Omaha Metro dates for FREE workshops (with Zoo admission). See below for more details. 


  • Celebrate Urban Birds: A Citizen Science Program - Do you want to learn about birds in your neighborhood?  Want to learn to be able to know the difference between a House Finch and a House Sparrow?  Then this is the beginner’s class for you.  A Citizen Science program designed with the NEW birder in mind by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Celebrate Urban Birds helps people of all ages learn about birds.  This class will help you learn how and where to observe as well as giving you data sheets to complete to help The Cornell Lab of Ornithology data collect in our area.   
    • Dates to be determined. Check back for more info.  

  • Monarch Larva Monitor Project: A Citizen Science Program - Monarchs travel long distances and many people monitor and tag their fall migration but did you know that you can be trained to watch their spring migration too. The Monarch Joint Venture and the University of Minnesota has designed a Citizen Science project that trains volunteers across the United States in monarch butterfly research.  The goal of the project is 1) to beter understand how and why the monarch population changes throughout the breeding season and from year to year, and 2) to compare monarch activity between geographci locations throughout North America.  In this workshop volunteers will be trained on data collection, habitat description, observations, estimates, monitoring sites, comparing observations, and possibly participating in other monarch activites.  
    • Dates to be determined. Check back for more info


  • Love Your Lilacs: A Citizen Science Program - Do you have Lilacs in your back yard and want to learn how to monitor their spring progress. Data collected will be used to determine differences over the years and help track trends that might be occuring all across the United States. The midwest has a very low reporting number on lilacs and the Omaha Zoo & Aquarium would like to increase the data collected by training the public (Citizen Scientist) throughout Nebraska. If you or someone you know has a lilac bush, this is a class for you. 
    • Dates to be determined. Check back for more info




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

Where can I spot wildlife in the Omaha-Metro?

Anywhere nature can be found. In your backyard, a park, on your walk to school or work or even at your favorite attraction, such as the Zoo. 

Please note: Zoo animals 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 160 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?

Absolutely! Zoo animals are included and should be marked as "Cultivated". Wildlife located on Zoo grounds is fair game.

Please also note: While the citywide event is free, an Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium membership or paid Zoo admission is required to enter grounds.

What species can I spot on or around Zoo grounds?

Many! See below for a list of species you might find.

Please note: Zoo animals are excluded from the challenge and do not count as observations. This will be the case when visiting other attractions and wildlife organizations. Plants and animals that are part of an exhibit are excluded and do not count as observations


  • American toad
  • Painted turtle
  • Plains leopard frog
  • Cope's gray tree frog
  • Woodhouse toad


  • Roly poly
  • Earthworms
  • Ants
  • Mosquitos
  • Box elder bugs
  • Ticks
  • Caddisfly
  • Lady bird beetle
  • Click beetle
  • Lacewing
  • Eastern velvet ant (cow killer)


  • Burr oak
  • Sycamores
  • Kentucky coffee trees
  • Eastern redbuds


  • 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



Participant Toolkit

Whether you're a participant looking to go about the city in search of wildlife or are an organization wanting to host a City Nature Challenge-based event or simply encourage the community to visit your location in search of unique species, here are some helpful resources to get you started.

If you have any questions or are an organization interested in hosting a City Nature Challenge-based event, please contact Pamela Eby in the Education Department at (402) 738-2049 or The Zoo can help promote your City Nature Challenge event by adding it to this webpage.

About iNaturalist

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
  • Download the app from the AppStore or Google Play
  • Sign in
  • Start sharing your observations
  • Get feedback from actual scientists, experts, and other naturalists

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 2019 Flyer

City Nature Challenge 2019 Post Card

CNC 2019 Event Demo Collection Form

iNaturalist Logo

iNaturalist short Logo