Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Observing Nature for the City Nature Challenge

Citizen Scientist and Buzz reader Linda Sanoff shared this photo of a California Mule deer she observed at Lake Hollywood during the City Nature Challenge.

Last week we wrote about the City Nature Challenge, a friendly competition started in 2016 between the Natural History Museum of LA County and California Academy of Science to motivate their respective citizen scientists to get out and observe urban wildlife. CNC has grown to more than 300 cities. The observations made by citizen scientists, and recorded using the iNaturalist app, are invaluable to helping scientists gather information from around the world on the state of wildlife in our urban environments.

Citizen Scientist, Hancock Park resident and Buzz reader Linda Sanoff shared some of her observations from a walk she took with a friend this weekend around Lake Hollywood, hoping to make some observations for the Challenge.

An early riser, Sanoff started her walk at 7:30 a.m. Saturday.

“We started our walk at Lake Hollywood going clockwise. The first third of the walk only provided us with a bird and the rabbit. When we reached the bridge over the reservoir, things really began to heat up. We saw lots of birds. and on the last quarter of the walk we were amazed to spot deer.”



The Challenge ends tonight ,but there’s still time to post your observations. To date. there are more than 876,000 observations. If you don’t have time to take a walk or hike, here’s a fellow you are likely to see right in your own backyard. This Fox Squirrel was spotted on Saturday afternoon in our backyard.


A Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger) observed in our backyard on Saturday afternoon.


Initially we tagged it as an Eastern Grey Squirrel but Kayce Bell, Assistant Curator of Terrestrial Mammals at the NHMLA, who researches mammal and parasite diversity, corrected my observation. When I asked how you can tell the two species apart she replied. “That is a great question!” (We love that about NHM staff, they love all questions!)

“The gray squirrels can have some brown on them, but in general, they tend to be really gray,” wrote Bell. The fox squirrels around here are almost always brown or an orange brown. We also aren’t sure if eastern gray squirrels are in LA. There are a few reports of them, but to my knowledge it has not been confirmed. They are very common in the Bay Area and other places on the west coast,” wrote Bell.

The City Nature Challenge may end today but observations are welcome anytime and scientists continue to monitor the app so the learning continues as well.


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Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

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