A sign at Lincoln Park Zoo. Credit: Lincoln Park Zoo

LINCOLN PARK — Lincoln Park Zoo is hosting a nature sightings challenge to get Chicagoans outside this spring. 

Participants in the Lincoln Park Zoo BioBlitz and City Nature Challenge will share photos of the plants, animals and other living creatures they spot in and around the city, according to a Facebook event. Chicagoans will join more than 350 cities around the world contributing to the City Nature Challenge, an international event that encourages people to document the wildlife in their own cities.

People can make and share observations April 29-May 2 and upload observations and identify species May 3-8. The cities with the most wildlife catalogued will be announced May 9.

A local celebration and wrap-up event with Lincoln Park Zoo is 6-7 p.m. May 9 on Zoom.

Participants who download the free app iNaturalist can share their discoveries with the Community Science teams at the California Academy of Sciences and the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, which run the collaborative competition. The scientists will use the information to create data that will help further their work studying wildlife.

Scientists are looking for photos, evidence or observations of living or dead organisms, including wild plants, animals, fungi, seaweed and bacteria, or lichen, shells, tracks, scat and feathers. 

Individuals and groups from the Chicago Metro area who participate will receive training via Zoom from Lincoln Park Zoo staff from the Urban Wildlife Institute, Horticulture and Learning teams. They’ll learn how to investigate the wildlife they discover in the city.

Those who register online for the BioBlitz, Lincoln Park Zoo’s City Nature Challenge event for the year, are automatically signed up to attend all three Lincoln Park Zoo in-person and virtual challenge events. People who can’t attend either Zoom sessions hosted by Lincoln Park Zoo are still encouraged to register and participate.

The events: 

  • 6-7 p.m. April 29: BioBlitz 101 kickoff and introduction on Zoom. Staff from Lincoln Park Zoo will inform participants what to look for and how to use iNaturalist.
  • 11 a.m.-2 p.m. April 30: BioBlitz at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Nature Boardwalk, an in-person event. Come together with Lincoln Park Zoo’s Urban Wildlife Institute, Cook County Farm Bureau, DuPage Forest Preserve and Lake Forest College for hands-on time of discovery.
  • 6-7 p.m. May 9: BioBlitz celebration and wrap-up on Zoom.

Lincoln Park Zoo’s BioBlitz trainings will happen on Zoom, also using the iNaturalist app to collect data. The event is free to participate in, but Lincoln Park Zoo will accept donations.

More rules and information on the challenge can be found on the City Nature Challenge website.

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