Create custom field guide

I am interested in outlining an area on the map and listing all observations for that area. This would give users a sort of custom field guide and make it so much easier to research the area.

IMO research is important for areas that have no connectivity. Field guides are so non-specific as to be only marginally useful on the spot (for me anyway). If I knew the things I was likely to find I’d read up on them and have a much better time observing. I’d also know what has not been seen in some area so I could prioritize reporting them. Currently I have to click on every observation on the map and record it by hand. I don’t know of a way to list all unique observations on the map area for later reference, like a table of contents for the area.

Is this possible in iNat or other app?

are you just wanting to basically print out a bunch of observations but in an electronic format like PDF?

if so, you may want to look at:

Have you looked into making or using a place for a collection project?

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Have you checked the guides page?

Would some of the sorting options on this page be useful to you?

I have a Jupyter notebook that uses iNat data this way, additionally filtering by time of year and sorting by rarity. It’s not cleaned up yet (I’d like to also filter photos by annotations) and I haven’t yet made a Binder image for it, so it’s not public. But if you’re interested I can send it to you.

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the Explore page already allows you to draw a box or circle on the map to filter within. are you trying to draw a more complicated shape?

save it in a Github repo, and anyone can open it from there in Binder, Colab, JupyterLite, or other similar environments.

Then after you’ve outlined the area, click on “Species” and you’ll see all of the species that have been observed there, sorted by the number of observations. I often do this when I’m planning to visit an area, to get a sense of what’s there. You can further filter the results by date, e.g. if you want to know what’s in season.


This is totally possible on iNaturalist! Other users have already basically mentioned how to do this, but I’ll put it into one message for you:

From the home page click on the “Explore” button in the left, next click the “map” option near grid and list. After, you should two small orange spotted boxs one that is a rectangle and one the is a circle. Hover over them to see “make rectangular box” and “make circular box” from there just make whatever shape you’d like and on the side you can see observations. If you want to see the species just simply click on the species option next to observations option that you are already one. Ta-da! Easy local species “field-guide”.

FYI: If you want, you can just type in the name of your town in the search box if the range you want is a town registered to iNat for the same result.


Bingo! That’s it. Perfect for researching.

Now I need to figure out how to get a hard copy or store that data for offline use. I’m traveling to places in Baja, Utah and Nevada that don’t have cell coverage so I’ll have to rely on paper or saved data.

This is a big step forward.


I was thinking of building a site that uses the API for custom use. For instance some species do not have iNaturalist descriptions so you have to rummage around in the secondary sources to find better images and descriptions. Would probably do it in node for GUI + python for REST service that drives GUI. Can you share your github project?

Caveat: I’m new to iNat so am not sure if I’m interpreting the data or iNat features correctly yet.

Looks like once I get a list of species from the above process, I can choose to export it. This produces a CSV file with a bunch of fields that are not very useful and no photos but you can customize fields also. Looks like a great solution, if a bit fussy.

Ack, tough to turn a csv into a usable field guide with images. Will have to do some scripting to convert the csv into markdown or something – hmm.