Connect and Collaborate Through Nature

Seth Patterson

Four years ago, what started out as a friendly rivalry to showcase urban biodiversity between Los Angeles and San Francisco has today grown into an international competition where people across the globe compete to see whose city can document the most biodiversity.

In the 2019 City Nature Challenge, more than 30,000 people recorded about 1 million observations highlighting over 30,000 species in urban environments all over the world! But this year’s event will be a bit different.

In response to the COVID-19 coronavirus emergency, the 2020 City Nature Challenge from April 24-27 will not be a competition. Instead it will be a collaboration, an opportunity to virtually connect with each other through nature.

Participants are encouraged to safely nurture in nature — wearing face masks and minding social distancing guidelines — and document the incredible assortment of wildlife that can be found (literally) in your own backyards.

You’d be surprised just how much activity is teeming about in your own little corner of the world. My advice is to take it slow.

I like finding a nice, comfortable spot to sit in silence for a few minutes, to let my mind relax and my eyes to focus on the activity and plants right in front of me …

Ants marching along plant stems tending to their aphid colonies; jumping spiders skulking about the leaves; a fluttering butterfly landing on a nearby flower; birds flitting and singing in the tree tops while fox squirrels rummage in the understory for acorns. And there’s an odd little weed sneaking up through your turf with its stunning little flowers.

Urban biodiversity is remarkable and greatly underappreciated, so give your gardens a good long second look.

Even though the City Nature Challenge ends April 27, please continue to share any and all of your Bexar County observations in our iNaturalist SAWS Garden Style San Antonio Project. With your help, we can build a robust database of urban biodiversity!

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