owl pellets

Urban Nature Search

Wildlife is everywhere – even on your school grounds, in your yard, a ballfield, or city park! Wildlife scientists and urban biologists study wildlife to learn how they live and interact with the environment. These scientists may focus on one wildlife species or a group of species during their studies. They record observations made with their senses and other tools.

An urban biologist can help communities understand and develop ways to live harmoniously with their wild neighbors.

Help your students become wildlife scientists

Before heading out on your field investigation of wildlife in your community, help build your students observation skills. The Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies developed a guide “Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills” to get you started on using science notebooks (also called a field journal) to build your student’s observation skills! Look at Unit 1 of this guide – you can download “Fostering Outdoor Observation Skills” guide here.

Help your students understand that observation is the key to this field investigation and that knowing the name of every animal found is not necessary. Describing each animal is important.

The prompts with the Urban Nature Search activity will help guide the students’ investigations. Remind students that they are using their eyes and ears to watch and listen for any signs (evidence) of the scenario on their activity card. Download this PDF of “What’s Wild in your City? Activity Cards”

Extend your conversation to include careers and types of WILD Work!

Here are some great WILD activities that correlate with wildlife and the job wildlife biologists do, some have additional Iowa information!

Project WILD:

  • Bird Song Survey – identify and inventory the local bird populations
  • Environmental Barometer – plan an investigation of biotic and abiotic elements in an area to consider relationships between environmental factors and the presence or absence of wildlife
  • Graphananimal – tally and graph the diversity of animals on a nature walk to compare different environments
  • Owl Pellets – students will construct a simple food chain from the contents of an owl pellet
  • Surprise Terrarium – make observations of live animals to learn about camouflage and adaptations that help animals survive
  • Tracks! – identify common animal tracks

Aquatic WILD:

  • Blue Ribbon Niche – create a variety of representation of wildlife that are found in riparian zones
  • Fishy Who’s Who – identify fish in their area and learn about the fish individually
  • Micro Odyssey – examine, draw, paint, and identify microorganisms in pond water
  • Water Safari – conduct a field investigation to discover wildlife, signs of wildlife and the location of water sources which wildlife may use
  • Working for Wildlife – careers: simulated job fair and interviews

Cross-reference to these WILD Resources units for additional resources: