Citizen scientists made 5,000 observations of 1,300 living things in the St. Croix River region last year

Digital database iNaturalist lets you record and explore observations of birds, insects, plants, and much more.




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All photos above by Greg Seitz, St. Croix 360

It was a busy year on the website and app iNaturalist, from the California Academy of Sciences. This tool lets anyone share their observations of plants, animals, mushrooms, and more.

See this St. Croix 360 article from last year for more information.

The site also lets anyone search the data by numerous criteria, including watershed.

Living landscape

The St. Croix River watershed, at 7,700 square miles, is full of life.

Now that 2018 has come to an end, a quick search shows an enormous amount of activity last year:

  • 5,042 total observations
  • 1,347 species
  • 453 observers

The top 10 species identified were:

  • Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) – 38 observations
  • White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) – 31 observations
  • Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) – 30 observations
  • Monarch (Danaus plexippus) – 29 observations
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata) – 28 observations
  • Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) – 24 observations
  • Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) – 24 observations
  • American Robin (Turdus migratorius) – 23 observations
  • Sandhill Crane (Antigone canadensis) – 23 observations
  • Common Loon (Gavia immer) – 22 observations

See all the forms of life observed in the St. Croix watershed last year here.

Right on the river

While the watershed is 7,700 square miles, the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway (which includes the Namekagon) represents only a narrow strip a bit more than 200 miles long. In this smaller area there were:

  • 180 observations
  • 129 species
  • 39 observers

See all the Riverway’s observations here.

You, naturalist

Personally, iNaturalist has become one of my favorite things. I love to document what I see, where I see it, and when, and it makes that really easy. It’s like a personal notebook, but which can also be shared with scientists.

It’s a great excuse to get outdoors.

My efforts so far have added up to a measly 850 observations of 298 species. It’s not much compared to many users on iNaturalist with deep curiosity and knowledge, and thousands of observations.

iNaturalist also has amazing visual recognition software, which can identify much of come across, even blurry photos of birds. It’s made me much better acquainted with my natural neighbors.

You can see all my observations here.

Other options:

  • eBird – The choice of most serious birders to log sightings and explore others’ observations.
  • HerpMapper – Dedicated to reptiles and amphibians. There are concerns about how iNaturalist conceals the locations of some animals prone to poaching, and HerpMapper promises to better protect frequent targets like turtles and snakes.


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Citizen scientists made 5,000 observations of 1,300 living things in the St. Croix River region last year