This has been a good year for DFW Urban Wildlife. The blog and its associated iNaturalist Project and Facebook Group are growing at an exciting rate. The evolution of the web site continues and we have expanded our activities into some fun new areas. Among these are a number of speaking engagements and our first ever bioblitzes. These events have been a great way to meet our readers and match faces to names. Even more are planned for next year! The most exciting of all these positive developments, however, are the milestones of readership participation achieved in our iNaturalist project and Facebook group. They are what this article will be about!
DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Project
The DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Project was begun in November of 2013. In just two years this citizen scientist project has grown to become one of the largest and most active in the entire state of Texas. Looking at a map view you can see a distinct concentration of observation activity centered around the metroplex—you all are responsible for that!
Our iNaturalist Project just recently recorded its 30,000th observation. I am blown away by that number. It is really quite an accomplishment. With your help we know have over 1750 different species of wildlife documented living right here in the heart of the 4th largest metropolitan area in the entire United States.
The enthusiastic participation of 767 people and 292 active members has been crucial to compiling this incredible wealth of wildlife information. What a fantastic field guide and wildlife reference we have developed for ourselves over the last couple of years. This is a resource the likes of which has never existed before. It is current, it is scientific, and it is available to everyone who would like to use it.
Below is a list of just some of the notable observations that have been added to our iNaturalist project over the last couple of months:
- Yellow-chevroned Parakeet in Fort Worth
- American Alligators in Lewisville
- Pileated Woodpecker at White Rock Lake
- Sandhill Cranes in Tarrant County
- Backyard Bobcat in Denton County
The interface provided by iNaturalist is not always the most user friendly. It can be somewhat of a challenge to learn your way around the app, and for some it can take a little patience and persistence to become proficient. Because of this I like to give a “guided tour” from time to time to help folks discover all of the wonderful things that can be found in our DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Project.
Creating an account in iNaturalist is easy. All you have to do is click the Sign Up link, and enter a username, email address, and password. That’s all there is to it!
After creating an account, the next step is to join the DFW Urban Wildlife Project. Fortunately, that is easy too! All you have to do is click the Join this project link…
Once you have an iNaturalist account you will be able to add observations of your own. This too is very easy to do. Just click the “Add observations to this project” button. This will take you to a screen where you can enter the name of the animal you saw (or check “ID Please” if you have any uncertainty). You can enter the date, location, and a brief description. Finally, you can choose the image or audio files your would like to upload with your observation. That’s it!
One of the most powerful and educational aspects of iNaturalist is the comment section included with every observation. Using the comment section allows other members to draw attention to particularly notable observations. Even more importantly, if there are ever any questions about the identification or other aspects of a wildlife observation, this section can be used to work out the details. Experts will chime in with their thoughts and impressions. When all of the give and take results in a positive identification, the insightful comments leading up to it become a powerful learning tool.
All observations (yours and those made by other members) are browsable by category through the Checklist link located on the DFW Urban Wildlife iNaturalist Project homepage. Nine different taxon categories are included:
- Insects with 756 Observations
- Birds with 253 Observations
- Reptiles with 53 Observations
- Arachnids with 44 Observations
- Mammals with 41 Observations
- Fishes with 26 Observations
- Mollusks with 25 Observations
- Amphibians with 19 Observations
- Others with 11 Observations
Suppose you wanted to see all of the Bald Eagle sightings reported in North Texas and recorded in iNaturalist… All you would do is click the Birds taxon link provided in the Checklist, and then page through the listings until you find the entry for Bald Eagles. Click “View all” to see a map and list of all related observations.
Don’t forget that iNaturalist also provides smart phone apps for iPhone and Android, which may be a nice alternative for some folks. Using your phone’s camera and location information makes recording and submitting new observations particularly convenient.
If you have questions about any aspect of using iNaturalist please feel free to reach out to me using the contact form on this web site.
DFW Urban Wildlife and Facebook
On Facebook we have a couple of different options available… We have the DFW Urban Wildlife Facebook Page used to socialize the DFW Urban Wildlife blog… Like Us! And then there is my personal Facebook profile… Friend me!
This summer we expanded reader participation opportunities even further with the establishment of a brand new DFW Urban Wildlife Facebook Group. This group allows for more spontaneous participation than facilitated by iNaturalist. People who already have accounts and are familiar with Facebook’s interface find it easy to share their interesting urban wildlife observations in this venue.
Joining the group is easy, and everyone is welcome… All you have to do is visit our page and click the “Join Group” button located in the header section. To protect against spammers we vet every request, but the turn around time is usually very quick, and most new members will be able to post within minutes of requesting to join.
We now have almost 350 group members, many of who contribute stories and photographs regularly. The result is a photo gallery that contains hundreds of excellent and notable wildlife pictures. This collection of wonderful photographs from all around the DFW Metroplex is really something very special. I couldn’t be more proud of this fantastic achievement! Below are just a few examples of the amazing observations documented in this unique collection:
If your inner naturalist is looking for an outlet and you want to learn more about the great diversity of wildlife we have living in our midst, DFW Urban Wildlife’s iNaturalist Project and Facebook Group are the venues you are looking for! No observation is too pedestrian! No photograph is too out of focus! All of your wildlife observations have value and we are eager to see them!