Narrowing Identify List

This is a bit of a newbi question since I have so far concentrated on making observations and am only now exploring how the Identify process works. I am wondering if it is possible to narrow down the generated needs ID list in such a way as to more closely match things I know more about. Can it be narrowed down by

  1. life list
  2. native or endemic
  3. trees
  4. inland birds

I have explored the filters available, I know I can put geographic limits on. I doubt any of the above are possible but if there was a way to concentrate on the organisms I am familiar with it would be very useful.

Cheers Andrew


If there’s a list of species you are comfortable with, you can always view each taxon one by one. I like doing that anyway, because it’s obvious when one of them is not like the others.

  1. Interesting question. I know unobserved_by_user_id= does essentially the opposite, showing things you haven’t seen, but I know if there’s a way to do things you have seen.
  2. should give you only native species
  3. No, not possible, because there is no taxonomic definition of “tree”
  4. Hmm. If you could find a place which would encompass what you mean by “inland” I think that would be your best bet.
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See more possible search filters here:

Yes, you can narrow down the search using your “life list”, or any other user-created taxa list; I’ll explain that below.

The other options that you suggest would need manual effort on your end. I’m not sure that “native or endemic” is encoded, since it’s on a country-by-country basis and there are probably major gaps in the data even if it were accessible.

“Trees” isn’t a taxonomic category. It’s one of those things that spans multiple taxa, so you would need to manually construct a list of tree species. e.g. Lots of trees in the genus Cornus, but not all species in that genus are trees. iNat doesn’t have that data encoded anywhere as far as I am aware. The same is true of “inland birds”. But, you could make a list of trees or a list of inland birds, and that could be used to filter your searches.

Everything can be done with lists

There’s a great forum wiki on “How to use iNaturalist’s Search URLs” that gives the best guide to how to use URLs to narrow these searches, including when using Identify.

But it can take a while to figure out things, even with a wonderful wiki, so I’ll just explain directly.

Example from my own use of a list for identification

I’m a newbie to moth identification, but I can readily identify a few local moth species. So I created a list of “BC Moths to ID”:

The number in that URL (4336363) uniquely identifies my moth list. And you can use those numbers in a search URL. To use this on the Identify page, you add it to the Identify URL:

Since I might get confused by similar species from other parts of the world, I add a place parameter to narrow my search. To get the place_id value, you can go to the Identify Page and select the place name. The URL will update to include a place.

If I select “Canada”, the URL would update to include the place_id for Canada (6712):

Now, I can put the place_id and the list_id together:

One can add further parameters, and I usually include quality_grade=needs_id (although I think that is the default):

Once you have that URL, I suggest that you add it to your iNat profile or bookmark it somewhere so it’s easy to return to regularly.

Make your own custom list

You can make your own custom lists by going to Lists page on the menu of your iNat home page. Here are the steps in brief:

  1. Go to:
  2. Give your list a title and description (you can change these later if you wish)
  3. Click the Add to Your List button on the top right.
  4. Enter the name (common or scientific) of a species or genus or whatever level of taxa & the system will search for matches.
  5. Select the matching species from the list of returned results and click the Add button.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until you have all of the species that you can think of; you can always come back later and add more taxa if you wish.

Once your list is created, copy the list_id from the URL to include in your custom search URL.

That’s it. It’s pretty easy!

Note: Your lists are publicly visible, e.g.


Great suggestions, thank you so much. I have some time ago explored the URL selection possibilities from the wiki though I had not fully understood how lists work.

I think working with lists is probably the one that will get me closest to what I want. The inland areas one was mainly for birds and again starting from my life list I can create that easily too. At the moment using the entire life list seems to be including species which I have never observed but this might be something to do with having some high level observations (eg Ferns and Allies) which perhaps opens me to all members of that including some I have not observed. I will have a thorough play around with it and see where I get.

Thank you, I will return to report findings and perhaps ask further questions later.



Using lists is working wonderfully, all good, thanks



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