San Francisco Bay Area City Nature Challenge, April 24-27, 2020

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made some modifications to the City Nature Challenge to help keep our organizers and participants safe. Firstly, this year’s CNC is no longer a competition. Instead, we want to embrace the healing power of nature and encourage the collaborative aspect of the CNC. This will allow people to safely document biodiversity in whatever way they can, even from the safety of their own homes if necessary. We urge all participants to carefully follow public health guidelines provided by your local governments, as they are changing in real-time. Individual safety and public health are our utmost priority. Please refer to our COVID-19 FAQ page for more information.

Join in the 5th annual City Nature Challenge 2020, happening April 24-27! Take part in this global movement to make and share observations of nature in and around cities.

Visit the main City Nature Challenge website to learn more about the event and to see the list of the 200+ cities participating in 2020!

Here in the Bay Area, joining in is easy! If you live in or are visiting any of the nine counties that touch San Francisco Bay, all you have to do is:

1. Download the free iNaturalist app to your mobile device.

2. During April 24-27, take photos to make observations of wild plants and animals in your house, your backyard, a park, your neighborhood - anywhere you find nature and can maintain safe social distancing. Check out this guide for finding nature in and around your home for ideas of where to look for species. Be sure to mark the observation as captive/cultivated if it's not a wild organism!

3. Upload your photos to iNaturalist. They will be automatically added to the San Francisco Bay Area City Nature Challenge project!

4. Learn more as your finds get identified, and feel free to help ID other people's observations, especially during the April 28-May 3 identification period.

5. Results will be announced on Monday, May 4!

How to Participate in CNC in Light of COVID-19

As a participant, it is up to you how much or how little you take part! Do only what feels safe for you & your family. It is imperative that you follow all government regulations, though.

Here in the Bay Area, we realize that in-person events are likely not going to happen unless something is drastically different by the end of April. But since we're still allowed to go outside (for now!), let's try to enjoy & document nature in whatever ways we feel we can. Being outside can also help to lower stress levels and increase overall feelings of well-being, so take care of yourselves by being in nature if you're able to. Here are some suggestions, and check out our guide to exploring nature around your home:


- Did you know that there are on average 93 species of arthropods living in houses?

- What can you find in your house? What can you see through your windows?

- Focus on identifications!

- During April 28 - May 3, hold virtual ID parties with your friends!

In Backyards:

- Put up bird feeders or moth lights, or put down cover boards to bring nature to you!

- What are the wild plants growing in your backyard?

- What insects or other creatures are using the cultivated plants in your backyard as habitat or a food source?

Outside of your home and backyard:

- Practice social distancing wherever you go.

- Make observations on your own or with your family in local parks and open spaces.

- Think about making observations along sidewalks, pavements, roads, or in residential areas if local parks are too crowded for social distancing. Always be mindful of traffic.

Stay safe, hang in there, and we can't wait to see what you find - in your houses, in your backyards, along sidewalks, in parks - and know that people all around the world are joining you in documenting nature in whatever way they can during these uncertain times.


Join iNaturalist

Our bioblitzes are powered by iNaturalist, our in-house, citizen science platform. It's a community-powered website and app that makes it easy to upload and share your observations in the field and to get help from other users with flora and fauna IDs.