Photo: Dozens of people picnic on blankets in a large park surrounded by hi-rise buildings.

Photograph by Anthony Smith, MyShot

Most of the time when people think about nature they think of places untouched by humans. “Nature” is often considered something that exists far away from cities. In reality, the division between nature and city is blurry. There is nature all around the city, even inside our homes.

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Photograph of hatchlings.

Bird Cams

On stormy days or if it’s too late to go outdoors, experience nature by watching webcams of all kinds of birds. Visit Celebrate Urban Birds to learn more. Search the internet to see if an organization in your city has a webcam on a local bird.

Photograph of a squirrel on grass surrounded by autumn leaves.

Seasons in the City

What does your city look like in different seasons? Pick two spots—for example, one can be outside your house or apartment and the other in a park—and snap photos in those spots each season. As you are taking pictures, you might want to take notes of things you observe, such as if you hear birds chirping or leaves rustling in the wind, or if you smell flowers or fresh cut grass, or if the air feels hot and sticky or cold and dry. Once you’ve completed the year cycle, look at your pictures and notes to compare the four seasons.

 

Photograph of insects on a windowsill.

Indoor Bug Exploration

Who lives in your home? You might think only yourself, the people in your family, and your pet, but did you know we also share our homes with many species of insects? Explore the nooks and crannies of your home while looking for bugs. Take pictures if the bugs are big enough and use an arthropod photo gallery to identify the critters.

 

Photograph of people planting trees.

Plant Trees

Many city agencies and organizations have initiatives to plant more trees in their cities. Having more trees helps reduce the urban heat island effect and promotes the well-being of city dwellers! Check out the Arbor Day website to see if there are ways to help plant trees in your city.

 

Plant-Pressing Project

Collect fallen leaves and petals from plants outside and bring them home. Use these plant pressing instructions to create your own collection just like professional botanists do! You can add plant identification information to your collection by using a site like iNaturalist.

 

Photograph of a conservatory at a botanical garden.

Visit a Botanical Garden

See how many different species of plants you can find. Do you notice any insects or animals pollinating the flowers? To find a garden or arboretum near your home, search the American Horticultural Society's garden directory.

Photograph of the sky.

Sky Photo Collage

Go outside every day to a spot where you can see as much sky as possible. Take a photo of the sky each day. See if there are any clouds, birds, or unique sunset or sunrise colors. Does the sky look different on days when it is really cold or really hot? What other things do you notice? Make a collage (either with print photos or on your computer) of your favorites!

Picture of a woman photographing plants.

Photograph Nature

Keep a camera handy for impromptu photography sessions and bring your camera along when you visit the park and other community locations. You can even take photos of the treasures right in your backyard. Keep a scrapbook of photographs taken around town and share them with out-of-town guests who want to learn more about your community.

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