Sky Island Alliance volunteers power our Wildlife Program—they maintain cameras, document animal tracks throughout the region, and help us identify species through photo analysis. Become an online volunteer and help us identify which species are appearing on our Border Wildlife Study cameras.
Our Border Wildlife Study produces millions of photos each year. Sky Island Alliance staff look through these and identify wildlife as we spot them. But in some photos, wildlife photos can be challenging to identify down to the species level! Lend your expertise in birds, butterflies, or whatever it may be to confirm or deny identifications on iNaturalist—a Community for Naturalists—where wildlife experts meet community scientists. Every identification helps to confirm and verify the species, and contributes to our study’s ongoing species list. Create an iNaturalist account and contribute to our Border Wildlife Study iNaturalist Project and to start identifying today!
Our Border Wildlife Study now includes two online projects that need your help—Border Birds Study and Border Mammals Study. Both projects are on Zooniverse.org, an online platform that hosts citizen science projects from all around the world—giving experts and amateurs alike an opportunity to engage in photo analysis and contribute to a wide variety of research projects.
You do not need to be an expert to help—every classification you make will be compiled and verified by others. Your contributions will allow us to improve the quality of our data so that we can better document the extraordinary biodiversity of our shared borderlands.
Ready to get started? Simply choose a project and click the link below to get started. You can access the projects without logging in, but we do recommend creating a free Zooniverse account to fully engage in the chat board and communicate with others. On each project site, you’ll find more information about the study, as well as a tutorial and field guide to help you along with your classifications.
Click a Photo to Go!
Helpful Tips for Finding Animals
Know your Scale
Examine the scene in each photo first to assess scale. Is the photo wide perspective of a broad landscape or a close perspective of the ground or game trail? Knowing the type of landscape perspective you are looking at can help you establish the scale of the image and understand how large animals are likely to be in the photo. Additionally, look closely at the vegetation. Trees and grass can help you get your bearings. A camera that is higher above the ground will have more ground in view. This means animals will appear smaller and you will have to look carefully for any tinier animals that may be hidden. A camera that is close to the ground has a “tight” field of view and smaller animals like mice and songbirds will be easier to see since they are closer to the camera.
Check all the Corners
If you think a photo is empty check all the corners of the photo before you mark it as such. Often wildlife moves too quickly for the camera to take a photo when it is in the center of the shot. Be on the lookout for tips of tails, wings, fur, legs, or any other changes to the photo along the outskirts of the photo.
Check the Background
If you do not see an animal immediately, check the background—especially in wide landscape photographs. Use the zoom function to navigate across the image. Birds can often be seen soaring in the distance and are easily missed.
At night the infra-red flash on the cameras does not extend as far, so animals are often only shadows in the distance. To help you see more in the image, turn your screen brightness up or use the Invert Image function on Zooniverse.