In response to COVID-19, we’ve made some essential changes to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all.

City Nature Challenge: Baltimore

Get Nerdy with Nature

City Nature Challenge is an annual community science competition for cities across the globe to find and document the plants and wildlife found in urban areas. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 challenge is all about collaboration, not competition. It is an opportunity for participants to connect with other cities across the nation—and the globe—while exploring the nature found in and around their homes.

The 2021 challenge will take place in two parts: from April 30 to May 3, 2021, community scientists will observe wildlife and take photos of all the plants and animals they can find. From April 30 to May 9, 2021, the species documented will be identified. On May 10, 2021, the results will be announced!

As regional coordinator, the National Aquarium is committed to protecting, enhancing and restoring natural resources for the benefit of all people and wildlife throughout the Baltimore region. Part of that commitment includes knowing which species of wildlife live nearby and the types of habitats they need to thrive.

Help Baltimore to Victory

Join us in showcasing Baltimore's natural wonders to the world! Take the pledge and you will receive instructions on how to participate as well as reminders as challenge dates approach.

Get Started

The National Aquarium is calling on community scientists to explore, identify and document urban wildlife in the Baltimore metropolitan area.

All observations made in the following counties and uploaded to iNaturalist during the challenge will automatically be counted towards Baltimore's City Nature Challenge totals: Baltimore City, Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford, Howard and Queen Anne's Counties.

Not sure where to start? Check out this backyard scavenger hunt and start exploring the nature that surrounds you!

Ready, Set, Upload

New to iNaturalist? Check out this video for instructions on making your first observation upload, or follow the steps below.

Step 1: Download the iNaturalist app.
Step 2:
Find wildlife and photograph what you find.
Step 3:
Upload your observations by May 9, 2021.

Exploring Baltimore's Biodiversity

Check out the wildlife people are seeing in and around Baltimore today!

Upcoming Events

Virtual iNaturalist Training

When: April 16 from 1-2:30 pm

The National Aquarium is hosting an online iNaturalist training in advance of the City Nature Challenge. iNaturalist, one of the world's most popular nature apps, helps you identify the plants and animals around you. Get connected with a community of over a million scientists and naturalists who can help you learn more about nature!

This one-hour training (plus 30 optional minutes for extra one-on-one help) is designed for beginner and intermediate iNaturalist users. We will demonstrate how to use the app and website to make wildlife observations and identify the species that you saw during the City Nature Challenge and beyond.

iNaturalist Primer: Connect with Nature

When: April 21 from 7-8 pm

Weird, Wild, and Wonderful: Maryland's Biodiversity

When: April 29 from 7-8 pm

Carrie Murray Nature Walk

When: April 30 from 2-4 pm

Self-Guided Hike at Gunpowder Falls State Park

When: April 30 from 6-7:30 pm

Join Park Rangers on April 30 from 6 pm to 7:30 pm for an introduction to the City Nature Challenge and a self-guided hike. Rangers will be available to help visitors learn to use iNaturalist to log and identify species found in the park. The City Nature Challenge is a collaborative effort among cities across the globe to see which city can find and document the most plants and wildlife over a four-day period (April 30 through May 3). This event is not only fun, but helps scientists and the environment! No experience is needed. Bring your phone and/or camera, wear a mask, and socially distance from people not in your household. To register, email ShannonM.Davis@maryland.gov.

Guided Hike at the Howard County Conservancy

When: May 1 from 8-10 am and 10 am-12 pm

iNaturalist Workshop and Self-Guided Hike at Irvine Nature Center

When: May 1 from 10-11 am

Carrie Murray Nature Walk

When: May 1 from 10 am-12 pm and 1-3 pm

Everywhere Nature Virtual Program

When: May 1 at 11 am

Font Hill Park Self-Guided Nature Walk and Tabling

When: May 1 from 9-10:30 am

Rockburn Branch Park Self-Guided Nature Walk and Tabling

When: May 1 from 11 am-1 pm

Getting Nerdy with Nature with the National Aquarium

When: May 1 from 1-2 pm

Middle Patuxent Environmental Area Self-Guided Nature Walk and Tabling

When: May 1 from 2-3:30 pm

Schooley Mill Park Self-Guided Nature Walk and Tabling

When: May 2 from 9-10:30 am

iNaturalist Workshop and Self-Guided Hike at Irvine Nature Center

When: May 2 from 10-11 am

High Ridge Park Self-Guided Nature Walk and Tabling

When: May 2 from 11 am-12 pm

Savage Park Self-Guided Nature Walk and Tabling

When: May 2 from 3-5 pm

Thank You, Community Scientists!

Thanks to nature lovers like you, the Baltimore region had a tremendous showing in the 2020 City Nature Challenge! Collectively, as of December 2020, 705 of you made 11,087 observations, and identified 1,465 species in and around Baltimore—23 of which are protected, rare, threatened or endangered. This is the highest number of observations and species identified in Baltimore since we began participating in the challenge in 2018! Once again, the most commonly reported plant species in the area was garlic mustard, and the most commonly reported animal species was the northern cardinal.

In addition, 50% of Baltimore's verifiable observations (those with photo or audio evidence) obtained research-grade status, which means that this high-quality data will be shared with larger databases and used for research projects—helping science long after the challenge has ended.

Globally, 41,165 participants from 246 cities made 815,258 observations and recorded over 32,600 species—1,300 of which are rare, endangered or threatened.

The City Nature Challenge is organized by:

If you have questions or if your organization is interested in partnering with us, please email conserve@aqua.org.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter Sign up to receive updates on animals, news and events.