City Nature Challenge

City Nature Challenge

City Nature Challenge 2020

April 24 - 27, 2020

Details Coming Soon!



2019 City Nature Challenge

presented by

American Spring LIVE

Thanks to everyone who participated in the City Nature Challenge 2019: Omaha Metro.  Even though the weather was cool and crisp we finished in fine form.  Here are the results:

World Wide

  • 63,773 Observations

  • 31,000 Species

  • 35,126 People Participated

Omaha Metro

  • 1,896 Observation

  • 529 Species

  • 153 People Participated

However, the great news is that Omaha, out of 159 cities world wide, finished #1 in Highest % of Research Grade Species!

The overall Winner of this year's City Nature Challenge 2019 was Cape Town, South Africa with 53,763 Observations and 4,588 species.  That will be a tough goal to match for 2020!  

Another exciting result is that our top three species in Omaha, NE did not include dandylions!  Although our insects were hard to find due to the cool weather, our spring flowers were in bloom.  

  1. Common Blue Violet
  2. American Robin
  3. Canada Goose

Thanks again for everyone for helping make this year a exciting time and we can't wait till next year to see what we find in Omaha Metro!  


Presenting Sponsors

Spring is one of nature’s greatest performances – a time of rebirth, renewed energy and dramatic transformations. For three consecutive nights, Monday, April 29 – Wednesday, May 1 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings) and Facebook, American Spring LIVE presented by NET, Nebraska's PBS Station, will reveal the change from winter to spring in real time from iconic locations across America, including Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium.


Omaha STEM Ecosystem is transforming Omaha into a robust STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) community to grow the talent pipeline.
They envision a community where all young people, especially those underrepresented in STEM careers, will have the opportunities needed to be successful in learning, scientific thinking, examining potential career paths and exploring opportunities to extend their educational achievements.






(Click on logo to access available event pages)


Partner Events

Thanks to all our Partner's for holding events and helping introduce City Nature Challenge 2019 to the community! 
Omaha STEM Ecosystem/Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium
  • Celebrate Urban Birds Citizen Science Workshop Friday, April 26 (6:00 pm to 8:00 pm)
  • Misson for Monarchs Citizen Science Workshop Saturday, April 27 (1:00 pm to 3:00 pm) 
  • Love Your Lilacs Citizen Science Workshop Sunday, April 28 (1:00 pm to 3:00 pm) 
*Docents and Zoo Crew will also be on hand Friday, April 26 thru Sunday, April 28 to show how families can participate in the City Nature Challenge at the Zoo and throughout Omaha. 
Omaha Public Power District 
Join OPPD on Saturday, April 27th between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm at the OPPD Arboretum.  There will be a number of community members available to assist with taking and submitting observations to the iNaturalist app including: UNL Extension Entomologists, Drs. Jody Green and Jonathan Larson, Douglas-Sarpy County Extension Master Gardeners, and OPPD Forestry team members.  
The Arboretum is an outdoor education area located near 108th and Blondo Street. It was created to help residents understand safety issues assocated with planting trees and shrubs around power lines and other electrical equipment as well as learn about native trees and shrubs.  
Omaha Public Library City Nature Challenge: Omaha Metro
Joslyn Castle
  • Spring Lecture Series: City Nature Challenge, Monday, April 29, 2019 (6:30 pm - 8:00 pm)
Fontenelle Forest
Mulhall's & Heron Haven
  • Saturday, April 27 (10:00 am - Noon)  Join Mulhall's and Heron Haven along with nature experts from across the Omaha community as they look to document Omaha's biodiversity by taking pictures of plants, insects and animals at Heron Haven Wetland Sanctuary. Learn from biologists, entomologists, and other experts including representatives from Heron Haven, Mulhall’s, Creighton University, University of Nebraska Omaha, College of Saint Mary, Nebraska Master Naturalists, Audubon Nebraska, Pheasants Forever, and Papio-Missouri River Natural Resource District.


Nebraska Wildlife Rehab & Lauritzen Gardens
The City Nature Challenge is an annual BioBlitz where people across the globe become citizen scientists in a friendly competition with other cities to document their local wildlife. This year, join Nebraska Wildlife Rehab at Lauritzen Gardens as we teach people how to use the iNaturalist app for this event to identify birds, insects, plants, and whatever life we can find. All of this valuable information goes into a database that scientists can use, while you spend the day immersed in nature and learn about our local biodiversity.
Anyone with access to a smart phone can participate, and families can work together to make this a fun outing for everyone. The event is free with paid admission to Lauritzen Gardens, and you can continue using iNaturalist long after the event to contribute as a citizen scientist. Nebraska Wildlife Rehab staff will have an informational booth at Lauritzen Gardens on Saturday, April 27 from 10am to 3pm to help answer any questions and get people started on their BioBlitz adventure. Make sure to bring a mobile phone or tablet with access to the internet!
City Sprouts and NE SciFest

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 excluded from the challenge and do not count as observations.

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.

Sign-Up for an Email Reminder

Sign up now for email reminders before, after, and everywhere in-between! To help remind ourselves about the upcoming challenge, we have started an email list of participants, students, families, individuals, schools, businesses, etc. We will start emailing reminders on Wednesday, 4/24/19, with daily reminders after that to excite and encourage your participation. One final email will be sent out in May to let you know how we did. We can’t do this without you, so please sign-up today!

Send me reminders!


Want to Practice? 

Click here for other Citizen Science programs that you can do ahead of time to get ready for CNC2019!

  • 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 2019: 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.   
    • Friday, April 26  6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the Wild Kingdom Pavilion Auditorium   


  • 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.  
    • Saturday, April 27 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Wild Kingdom Pavilion Auditorium   


  • 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.  
    • Sunday, April 28  1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in the Wild Kingdom Pavilion Auditorium 

Want to Participate in a Special Overnight City Nature Challenge Event?

The Zoo has two special overnights where guests can sign up and spend the night and sample plants and animals on Zoo grounds after hours. 

Friday, April 26 - Small Group Safari:  Scouts, youth groups, and other social groups can come and stay the night and sample the biodiversity of the Zoo's native species.  Guests will be trained on iNaturalist and sampling techniques and then be allowed to sample plants and animals using iNaturalist for the City Nature Challenge 2019 : Omaha Metro.  Cost is $45 per person and include Zoo admission, overnight stay in the Scott Aquarium, evening hike, evening snack and morning hike.  

Saturday, April 27 - Family Group Safari: Families can come and stay the night and sample the biodiversity of the Zoo's native species.  Families will be trained on iNaturalist and sampling techniques and then be allowed to sample plants and animals using iNaturalist for the City Nature Challenge 2019 : Omaha Metro.  Cost is $55 per person and include Zoo admission, overnight stay in the Scott Aquarium, evening hike, evening snack, morning hike, breakfast, and a visit from Animal Ambassador. 



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 is now 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 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.

What other cities are participating?

More than 100 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! However, Zoo animals are excluded from the challenge and do not count as observations. Everything else 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