Creating a yard list

I’m pretty much a newbie to iNat but…

I wanted to do something similar - not a yard list but a location list. After realizing I couldn’t do it as a ‘list’ I decided to attach the observations to journal posts, something I was wanting to write anyhow. So I make a journal post about a location (parks, reserves, natural areas, etc) and then attach observations I’ve made for those locations to the post. It’s not an easy process. You have to scroll through all your observations (in calendar order) in a small window to find the ones you want. So I’m a bit motivated to get some of my locations set up as journal posts before I get many more observations. Then when I want to update a journal post with newly seen obs, I don’t have to scroll very far to find them.

If someone has a better way of doing this, let me know.

(edited to change ‘could do it as a list’ to ‘couldn’t do it as a list’… which is what I meant to say)


Places are an important and great feature of iNaturalist, they just have some limitations. So yeah you would make a place for your yard or whatever location and then follow what observations are posted to that place.

This feature would also be awesome if you’re concerned about giving out the location of your home:

It sounds like you are needing a “traditional project”. Back when I joined iNat 5 years ago projects had to have observations added to them manually, and there was a way you could set them up to automatically receive observations. I think it became apparent that as iNat grows, that way of handling projects would become increasingly server intensive and problematic, so they have been phased out to a degree by the new form of projects (collection and umbrella). The way these new projects work is to effectively create a search filter with a fancy front page to it.

The advantage of these new project types is that they are “auto add”, once set up you don’t need to add observations to them, but that brings it’s own set of downsides… for one, you can’t selectively exclude observations that meet the criteria.

When you go to create a new project you are presented with the two new choices, and way down the bottom in small text is a link to the old “traditional project” type…

I think it will suit your use case much better than the auto add collection types.

Here is an example of my own that I created when I joined iNat:
note that it’s been over a year since I added to that project (the downside is you have to MANUALLY add!) and my interest in it was tapering off long before then.

Not long after creating it, it became apparent that many other iNatters have created similar, and I briefly considered trying to organise them all into a mega “back yard” project but prior to collection and umbrella projects that would have been a massive effort to get everyone working together. There have been similar attempts to that though, with “in my house” and similar…

anyway, a traditional project should meet your needs!


The following option is clumsy, inelegant, and works only for rectangular yards that are aligned with the cardinal directions, but one could set a bounding box (this one is also limited to plants in the bounding box, but this could be changed):

To limit the observations in that bounding box to only your own, add your user_id to the URL:

Just an idea. The upside is that because this is a URL one can bookmark in their browser, the result is private. A place or project might be problematic from a privacy standpoint as @aisti mentioned above. Journal posts are also a possibility as noted by @mmmiller, although, again, for a backyard there might be privacy concerns.


Places are well-liked and supported, and yes you need one for your project.
For lst you add taxons, not obsevations, they will have info about when you saw them.

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If using a traditional project then you don’t need to use or specify a place…

in fact, that is one of the advantages of the traditional project for this use case. In my project, for example, it is mostly observations from my section/house, but sometimes I would make observations of things near by, eg at the local park, and if there was a high chance of having them in my back yard then I would add them to my project as well. For instance… if I spot a bird that I know I have seen in my yard but just haven’t been able to get a photo of, and I get a good photo at the park, I’ll add that observation to my project. It’s not very “scientific” to do that, but it’s not really a project about science, it’s more about coming to grips with what I have (or potentially have) in my yard!

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I don’t see directions on setting bounding boxes. Do I copy your URL and add my own NE and SW coordinates?

Short answer is yes, longer answer is that you can get a head start on the coordinates from a Bounding Box:

In the screenshot I have started from the “Your Observations” menu and then zoomed in on the general area in which I want the bounding box. Then I click on “Redo search in map” which generates the Bounding Box URL that I can then manually edit to better match the area I want inside the bounding box. Editing the URL is a real hit and miss operation of working with decimal places, although I suppose if I used a GPS I could pre-determine the coordinates that I want.

There are four coordinates to manually edit: those of the northeast corner of the box and those of the southeast corner of the box.


I agree the “Traditional” project will work for this need. One issue that people have run into with projects involving small properties is that observations whose uncertainty bubble crosses the project line won’t be included (in collection projects, but that might not be true of traditional). In any case when you’re making the project lines I’d advocate adding a buffer (that is, make the place a little bigger than your yard). It will make it easier to capture the information you want, and I doubt if it will pull in unwanted observations.



You CAN specify a place for a traditional project, but it acts as a blocking filter rather than an including filter… ie it would HAVE to be in that place before it will let you add it.

To my thinking, it is better to just have no criteria at all, but to lock it down to only yourself that can add the observations. Then you can be free to add (or exclude!) what ever you wish, regardless of whether it is large accuracy circle, obscured, or even private!

Of course, if privacy is an issue, it would not be a good idea to do this kind of project in iNat anyway…


  • some notes on the GPS coords thing… it is 2 sets of coords, not 4, that define a bounding box :)
  • Here in Gisborne NZ, I have estimated that the 5th decimal place on decimal GPS coords is roughly 1m, slightly less one way and slightly more the other. Gisborne is at about 38.5 South, so if your latitude is similar, then it will work for you too… Strip out all after the 5dp (one metre accuracy should be fine for the bounding box) and then you can adjust by adding however many metres you need. Our urban sections, for instance, are typically about 15 to 20m frontage to the road, and most urban streets will be 1 chain wide, which is about 20m.

To be geeky about it: the 5th decimal place is always about 1.111 meters for latitude on the geoid (roughly at sea-level). It’s the same for longitude at the equator, decreasing gradually to zero at the poles (by the cosine of the latitude if you want to get super geeky ;-)


Yes, I wanted to say that, though collectional is easier for a start I think.

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Yes, traditional projects are ideal for when you need more control of what goes in the project. I made one for my local urban arboretum now I’m just waiting for summer to come so I can add more critters.


Places are well-liked and supported

I can’t find whatever comment I was thinking of, but I was definitely wrong about places not being enthusiastically supported by iNat… maybe I read something about overly complex polygons or bulk adding an entire database or something, and that’s not ideal? Anyway, what I said was wrong.


I don’t think you’ve said a wrong thing, though I never read that idea before it should be real in specific context you thought about the moment you wrote it, so it’s ok!


Thanks for the correction and good words, yes, two coordinates! I also just stumbled into a bounding circle today, the syntax being slightly different. I do not know how I missed this, but a single coordinate with a radius generates a circle. Perhaps not as useful for a yard list, unless one happens to have a circular yard, but this option actually works well for me.

The radius is in kilometers. I expect that setting up a place for a project would make the place and perhaps the project “discoverable” which may carry privacy implications as noted above.


I tried to get super-geeky once… I know how to triangulate positions in a fixed frame reference, and thought it would be an easy and fun thing to do to come up with a spreadsheet that I can use to do so on the geoid, that is, to have three positions in lat/lon format, and with distances of a point back to those, be able to calculate the lat/lon of the point. It got very messy long before I tried factoring in elevation on the geoid… and so I came to the sad conclusion that I am just not as geeky as I thought I was!..

(It’s a method called trilateration, for anyone interested in looking it up)

[edit: I ended up giving up on it and went to someone else for the solution, which I don’t have at hand anymore, but here is a similar one: ]


Most levels of government have ‘shapefiles’ for everthing (parks, civic addresses, locations of defibrillators, etc). I would recommend searching for the official definition for your property - this is similar to what you might see on a real estate map when searching for properties for sale - then download the shapefile and change to a kml. then add to iNat but give the new place name a good name - perhaps concatenate the Country, state/province, municipality, and the property identifier (PID). I always recommend using official place names and associated definitions whenever possible. Hope this helps.


I created a specific code for those locations that I include in my tags. That way I can filter those observations when I want to review them.


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