City Nature Challenge 2023: Sherburne & Central New York


City Nature Challenge is an annual international event to collaboratively record as many plant and wildlife observations as possible during a four day challenge (April 28-May 1 this year).  People from all over the world explore their neighborhoods and cities to find and document their local nature.  Every year CNC records how many observations of nature are gathered, how many different species are documented, and how many people help this global scientific community better understand nature all over the world.

City Nature Challenge uses iNaturalist as its platform for collecting data.  iNaturalist is a free app that can be installed on your phone and/or computer.  Researchers from all over the world have access to the observations posted on iNaturalist, and more than once it has resulted in rare and endangered species being located in areas where not expected.  Since 2017, when CNC went national in the US, it has been the largest annual observation recording event on iNaturalist.

This year Rogers Center is tossing its hat into the ring and we are forming our own “team” to collect data from across Central New York.  Our project area includes Madison, Chenango and Otsego counties.  Anyone who is outside during the four days of CNC can join our team by taking photos of plants and wildlife in these counties and uploading them to iNaturalist to be added to our project.

If you are competitive, you might find yourself spending the whole four days scouring your yard, your neighborhood, and area parks and forests in search of subjects to add to your list.  It is easy to see your numbers climb and monitor your standing on our leaderboard.  Will you get the most number of observations, or the greatest number of species?

Using iNaturalist is as easy.

Step 1:  Download the app to your phone and/or computer.  You can use iNaturalist 100% on your phone, but if you like to take photographs with a DSLR camera, you’ll also want to download it to your computer as well.

Step 2:  Go outside and look for some nature to photograph.  Take a picture.  You want to get the clearest image you can, and capture the key identifying characteristics of your subject.  You may need to take more than one image of your subject in order to capture all the relevant details.

Step 3:  Upload your photograph and identify your subject.  If you do not know what it is, iNaturalist will attempt to make an ID for you.  Later on, experts will review your image(s) and either confirm your ID or make their own recommendations.  Once you have two agreeing IDs, your image is upgraded to “Research Grade,” which is what the researchers are looking for.  

Need Help?

  • For more details on how to use iNaturalist with your phone, watch this video
  • For details on how to use the iNaturalist website, watch this video.
  • For tips on taking photos that are most useful on iNaturalist, watch this video.
  • For tips on how to use iNaturalist’s ID page, watch this video.

Where Do You Go?

The Rogers Center City Nature Challenge 2023 region includes Madison, Chenango and Otsego counties.  

You can go anywhere in these three counties – on your own property or on state, county or town public lands.  The greater the diversity of habitats you visit, the more species we are likely to record.

If you can, you will want to record species you find in gardens, fields, forests and wetlands.  Be sure to look up in the trees, under logs, and in the water.  

If you have them, take along binoculars, a hand lens, or even a net (to sweep for insects or to catch aquatic species).

Remember, we don’t want to be harming the critters, so please be respectful with any you handle and return them safely to their home after you have photographed them.

The "After Party"

During the week following CNC, participants are asked to help verify observations.

Come on out to Rogers Center with your laptop and join us for an ID party!  We will be open May 2-7, 10 AM until 4 PM, to help anyone who would like to come in and work on IDs.

Or you can do this in the comfort of your own home by going to iNaturalist and viewing the observations submitted during CNC.  If you can confidently identify the photographs of other participants, please do so. 

If you would like more information about City Nature Challenge, you can call (607-674-4733) or email us (, or complete the form below.