Field Guides

Field Guides for the Amateur Researcher & Citizen Scientists 

Trees in the Backyard, DPRYour own backyard can be have more biodiversity than you ever could have imagined.

When venturing into your own little patch of the world, you might discover many things you’ve never seen before. There are many great online field guides to use for identification of species in your local area, which can also be used as valuable resources for your own personal at home citizen science projects.

Some guides even allow for submission of observations, including the iPhone app, SciSpy, from Discovery Communications.


  • Audubon Field Guides
    with over 5,500 North American species of birds, butterflies, fishes, insects and spiders, mammals, reptiles and amphibians, seashells, seashore creatures, trees, and wildflowers.
  • All About Birds
    from the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, search and browse by name and shape or taxonomy.
  • Rocks Guide
    from to browse igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks.
  • USDA Plants Database
    from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, including standardized information about vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories.

Download the sci.spy iPhone app.

Sign up with SciSpy to contribute observations of critters from your own backyard.


Read more about sci.spy, the crowd sourcing biodiversity field observation tool from Discovery Communications, “New Crowd Sourcing App for Backyard Biodiversity Research,” DPR AmSci Journal, April 17, 2011.

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Last updated August 7, 2022