By Dana Buchbinder, Citizen Science Coordinator, Ecospark
Help put Toronto and the GTA on the map to win the title of the wildest city in Canada by taking part in the City Nature Challenge 2023 from April 28 - May 1!
The City Nature Challenge is an annual four-day global event where cities across the world compete to see which city can gather the greatest number of wildlife observations, find the most species and engage the most people at the event. EcoSpark is once again proud to be the regional organizer for the city of Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area.
Last year, Toronto and GTA took part in the challenge and recorded a whopping 5,060 observations, 825 species and 547 observers, putting us in the top spot for the most observers in Canada, and fifth spot for the most species observed and most observations recorded in Canada. Worldwide, over 1.6 million wildlife observations were made, making City Nature Challenge 2022, the biggest one yet!
Help us surpass that number this year by getting to 8000 observations, 900 species and 1000 observers and put Toronto and GTA on the map to win the title of the wildest city in Canada! Here are some ideas to get you started. Learn more and register as an individual or with your class at https://www.ecospark.ca/citynaturechallenge.
There are so many reasons to participate in the City Nature Challenge:
Remember to observe wildlife responsibly using an ethical approach. Your observations can really make a positive difference for conservation!
Ideas to Inspire
Try taking our SPRINGO card on a nature walk during City Nature Challenge. How many species can you see and share?
Bring City Nature Challenge to the classroom by searching for wildlife in your classroom! From the ladybug on the windowsill to millipedes under the floor mat, there are thousands of species sharing our spaces, and they are understudied...till now! We love the lesson plans of Never Home Alone Classroom Edition. Learn more and Register your class to take part in the GTA.
Gardeners: Shovel a scoop of soil and see what you can add to City Nature Challenge! Gardeners are curious to know more about the native and non-native grubs (beetle larvae) in lawns. Learn about the different species and which may be harmful. Weed species are also terrific to photograph for City Nature Challenge.
You might choose a window or single location outdoors and count birds that you see from there over 5 minutes. Then revisit the location later during the day, and on a second day of City Nature Challenge. How did the bird count differ? Were there any bird behaviour notes that you could add to the iNaturalist observation “Notes” section? Can you revisit the spot once your species identifications are confirmed in iNaturalist to notice their identifying features?
Try this technique for paying attention to the subtlest species, just beneath our feet. Use a hula hoop or another “frame” on the ground, and sit closely, observing just that spot for 10 minutes. Take a photo of each type of plant, and every insect you observe, to add to iNaturalist. How many species are there? How many individuals?
We are excited to see what everyone finds for City Nature Challenge this year! Stay tuned for the results at www.ecospark.ca.
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