Frequently Asked Questions - City Nature Challenge

  1. The app is not allowing me to add my observation to my city’s project.
  2. How can I tell if my observations are in my city’s project?
  3. What is the difference between wild and captive/cultivated?
  4. Can I add photos of different organisms to one observation?
  5. How do I add another photo to my observation?
  6. Will observations I upload after April 27th count?
  7. Should I agree with another user’s ID if I don’t know what it is?
  8. Why is no one identifying my observations?
  9. What if I take photos with my digital camera? Do I have to use iNaturalist’s mobile apps to make an observation?
  10. Who identifies the observations? Can I help?
  11. How do I upload my observations made on the app? Why are my observations not uploading?
  12. The iNaturalist app is taking up a lot of space on my phone - how can I reduce its size?
  13. Can I upload a video to iNaturalist?
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1. The app is not allowing me to add my observation to my city’s project.

There is no way to manually add your observations to them, but all City Nature Challenge projects will automatically include any observations that meet their date and place requirements (i.e. observed within the place boundaries on the dates April 24-27).

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2. How can I tell if my observations are in my city’s project?

There are two ways to do this, both involve logging in to inaturalist.org (or your country’s local iNaturalist site). Once you log in,

  • Go to your city’s City Nature Challenge project. To do that, go to the main City Nature Challenge project page and click on your city’s project. Then just click on “View Yours” under observations:

  • If you join your city’s project, any observation that is in the project will have the project’s badge on the right-hand side of its page.

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3. What is the difference between wild and captive/cultivated?

A captive or cultivated organism exists in the time and place it was observed because humans intended it to be there. A wild organism is one that exists in a particular time and place because arrived there some way other than intentional human assistance. Some examples:

Captive/Cultivated

  • Potted plants
  • Plants intentionally planted in a garden or flower conservatory
  • Pets
  • Animals in a zoo, aquarium, butterfly house, or pet store
  • Most trees that are along sidewalks and roads

Wild

  • Weeds in the sidewalk
  • Birds in a park
  • Offspring of plants in a restored area
  • Insects or spiders in your house that are not pets
  • Ticks on your dog
  • Animals from the wild that you are temporarily holding for photography
  • Insects at a light
  • Garden plants that are reproducing on their own and spreading beyond the garden
  • Birds at a feeder

Remember that the emphasis in City Nature Challenge and iNaturalist is observing wild organisms. If you do observe a captive/cultivated one, please mark it as such before uploading! Here’s a short video showing you how:

4. Can I add photos of different organisms to one observation?

Each observation should be of an individual organism at a specific place and time, and the photos in the observation should be of that organism. If you want to add another photo of the organism (for example, a photo of its leaves after you’ve already photographed the flower) to the observation, please see below.

Does this mean that if you see, for example, a flock of birds, you should make an observation for each individual bird? No, most iNat users usually just upload a photo or two of a group of the same species and make one observation.

5. How do I add another photo to my observation?

  • If you are using our mobile app, just tap on the + button on the Details page.

  • If you are using our web uploader, you can drag and drop photos onto each other, or select them and click “Combine.”

  • To add another photo or sound to an existing observation on the website, click the image icon.

6. Will observations I upload after April 27th count?

If the date of the observation is April 24-27, you have until 9:00 am local time on May 4th to upload it and have it count for the competition. This cut-off is the same for IDs as well.

7. Should I agree with another user’s ID if I don’t know what it is?

You should only add an ID or agree to an ID if you can independently verify that ID yourself. So if you do see that someone has added and ID to your observation, take a moment to do some research, either with a field guide, on iNaturalist itself, or elsewhere on the internet, before you decide to agree or not. You can also always ask the identifier how they reached their conclusion.

Even if you can’t finally decide either way, you’ll probably have learned something, and that’s why we’re all here. :-)

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8. Why is no one identifying my observations?

Here are a few possibilities:

  • You might not have added an ID before uploading. Many identifiers often narrow down their searches to taxa they know well, so it helps to have added at least a coarse ID (like Plants, Insects, Fish, etc) to your observation when you upload it. Here’s a short video showing you how to do that.

  • Because the primary focus of iNaturalist and the City Nature Challenge is wild organisms, observations of captive or cultivated organisms might not be seen by as many identifiers. Just more motivation to get out and find some insects, weeds, and lichen!

  • The “official” identification period for the City Nature Challenge doesn’t start until April 30th, so many people who add a lot of identifications may be focused on making their own observations and attending/organizing events.

9. What if I take photos with my digital camera? Do I have to use iNaturalist’s mobile apps to make an observation?

Nope! iNaturalist also has a website and you can upload photos and sounds there. Click the green “Upload” button in the top right corner to get started.

Check out this tutorial video for how to use our web uploader:

There’s also a discussion here about geotagging your photos, which is really helpful if you use a camera without a build-in GPS.

10. Who identifies the observations? Can I help?

Anyone on iNaturalist can add an ID to an observation, and you can definitely help.

The easiest way to add IDs on iNaturalist is to use the Identify page on our website. You can restrict your search by taxon, location, and other criteria. For example, if you only want to see observations in your city’s CNC project, you can choose that project in the Filters box:

The Identify page has keyboard shortcuts which you can use to quickly go through observations and add IDs. Please see our tutorial video here:

Finally, 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 family or genus level ID.

11. How do I upload my observations made on the app? Why are my observations not uploading?

By default, the iNaturalist apps are set to Auto Upload, which means the app will try to upload them as soon as you save them, via whatever data connection is available. This works great if you have cell service and are only uploading a handful of observations. However, if you are planning to upload a large number of observations, make a lot of observations in a row, or are using the app in an area with poor or no cell reception, you may wish to disable Auto Upload.

You can do this in the app settings. To get to the settings screen:

  • in Android, it can be found in the side menu, just swipe right from the left side of the screen
  • in iOS, go to the Me tab and tap on the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the screen

If you do disable Auto Upload you must remember to manually upload your observations later , which most people prefer to do over a WIFI connection. Note that if you upload large numbers of observations over the cellular phone network (either with auto upload or manually) you run the risk of exceeding data allowances on many monthly plans.

12. The iNaturalist app is taking up a lot of space on my phone - how can I reduce its size?

The iNaturalist app caches the photos that you take with it or import into it, which can increase its size. If you sign out of the app and sign back in, this should clear the cache and reduce the amount of space it uses on your device.

Note that logging out of the app will delete all observations which have not been uploaded, so make sure you’ve uploaded everything in the queue before you log out.

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13. Can I upload a video to iNaturalist?

Currently, iNaturalist only supports the uploading of still images and sounds. As a workaround you can use a screen grab from your video for the observation’s still image, then upload the video to a video hosting site such as Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, or Google Photos and link to the video in the observation’s description.

For instructions for how to add a sound to iNaturalist, please see our videos here and here. iNaturalist only supports .mp3, .m4a and .wav sounds files that are under 20mb in size.