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Nature is all around us, even in the busiest city. Animals like bears and mountain lions are exciting – and we’re lucky to have them in the mountains of Clark County! – but nature is fascinating even on the smallest level. You might make fascinating discoveries in your very own backyard or around your school. One important tool for learning about the nature around you is called a field guide. These books or online resources provide descriptions and pictures of animals so you can identify them in nature.

Create a field guide to record what you observe around you

Write down what you see
A notebook is a great way to write down the animals you see. Write down the name of the species, what it looks like, where you found it, and any interesting observations.

Draw a picture
Try drawing your findings in your notebook! A simple drawing can bring your observations to life. Even better? It’s fun, too!

Take a picture
Do you have access to a camera phone? Then practice taking photos of the interesting species you spot. As an added bonus, you can participate in online programs where you become a citizen scientist!

Collect tools
Items like a magnifying glass and binoculars will get you up close and personal with the organisms you’re observing.

Kids with a magnifying glass nature observations

Learn more about what's living around you

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Mammals

These warm-blooded animals have backbones, grow hair or fur, breathe air, and have three middle ear bones. Another important characteristic is the presence of mammary glands used for producing milk for feeding young. Mammals include dogs, deer, and humans!

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Birds

Birds are also warm-blooded vertebrates but they are further characterized by feathers, wings, beaked jaws, and egg-laying. Birds are incredibly diverse, from the small hummingbird to the large ostrich. One fascinating fact about birds is that they’re related to dinosaurs!

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Reptiles

Cold-blooded vertebrates, reptiles have hard scales. Reptiles are divided into three groups: crocodiles, turtles, and lepidosaurs, which include snakes and lizards. Some lepidosaurs give birth to live young but many reptiles lay eggs.

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Amphibians

Amphibians, which include frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts, are cold-blooded vertebrates that require specific wet environments. These animals breathe and absorb water through their skin! Due to this, amphibians are extremely sensitive to temperature and weather changes, as well as toxins in the ecosystem.

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Insects

These invertebrates, which include bees, butterflies, beetles and more, have exoskeletons and six legs. Most have wings. Insects are the largest animal group on the planet, with over 925,000 identified species.

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Macros

Macro means large enough to be seen without a microscope and invertebrate meaning without a backbone. These little creatures play a big part in the ecosystem of a stream as a food source and they breakdown organic matter.

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Osprey

These incredible birds used to be close to extinction but are thriving today, thanks to conversation efforts. Discover more about osprey and learn about our Osprey Cam!

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Salmon

Salmon are incredible animals that our entire ecosystem depends on. They also have deep cultural significance and major economic importance.

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