Our Species List
1) We have to see the organism together.
2) The organism must be alive.
3) The organism cannot be enclosed (e.g., at a zoo) and cannot have a label (e.g., trees at parks with names).
4) We have to identify the organism ourselves (i.e., no external help).
Our goal is to hit 1,000 species by the time we reach our 10th anniversary. Rule #4 is kind of a drag given the crowd we associate with, so we're open to suggestions on that front.
The point of the list (at least for me) isn't to rack up as many species as possible... it's to encourage us to appreciate the diversity of life around us (together!). Identifying an organism to the species level often requires close inspection, so you really get an appreciation for the nuances.
I figure the list can also serve as a sort of "amateur" guide to the regions we've visited since most of the species we identify are fairly common. The third sheet of the spreadsheet has links to albums of pictures we've taken of some of the organisms we've identified. See if you can match them up ;)!
Below is a list of resources that we've found particularly helpful.
- Google - seriously, just describe the organism (e.g., "white caterpillar with black tufts") and look at the image results. It's amazing.
- iNaturalist - an awesome citizen science project with literally millions of geotagged photographs of organisms. Super helpful for narrowing your search to a particular geography.
- NPSpecies - a database of species found in U.S. National Parks.
- Specific Organism Groups
- Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America
- BugGuide.net - this website is very visual, but also very thorough, which makes it a great resource for "intermediate" bug enthusiasts. People who can get "halfway there" in their identifications will find this website can usually take them the rest of the way.
- Common Spiders of North America - first lent to us by our friend Tim Sosa, it quickly became apparent that we would need to be buying our own copy. It's simply an amazing resource for identifying spiders. Beautiful illustrations, really informative text, and a handy dichotomous key to major groups.
- Specific Regions
- Pacific Northwest
- National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest - we didn't get this field guide until the end of our time in Seattle, but its utility quickly became obvious. The guide covers the most common and conspicuous species of the Pacific Northwest.
- Native Plant Field Guide - created by Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database, this is a great beginner's guide to common plants of the Pacific Northwest.
- Mountain Wildflowers - created by the Washington Trails Association, this is a great beginner's guide to common wildflowers of the Cascades and Olympics.
- Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast - although the guide focuses on plants found on the Pacific Northwest Coast, many of the species are found throughout the Pacific Northwest, which makes it very useful throughout the region.
- Washington Wildflowers - the Washington wildflower equivalent to the iBird Pro app. Extremely powerful search capabilities and comprehensive coverage.
- Wildflowers of Mount Rainier
- Lepidoptera of the Pacific Northwest: Caterpillars and Adults - created by the USDA and U.S. Forest Service, this is a great guide to the common moths and butterflies of the Pacific Northwest.
- Pacific Northwest Moths - a comprehensive guide for "every Pacific Northwest moth species within the families Drepanidae, Uraniidae, Lasiocampidae, Saturniidae, Sphingidae, Notodontidae, Erebidae, Euteliidae, Nolidae, and Noctuidae." Also includes an extremely powerful key, but it will most likely unhelpful for non-experts.
- Pacific Northwest Sculpins
- Keys to Mushrooms of the Pacific Northwest
- Pacific Northwest