Tech Tip Tuesday: Finding Target Species

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for warmer weather. As someone who grew up in Vermont and has lived up north for every winter of her life, you would think that I would be used to all this by now. Don’t get me wrong, I love spring—new leaves unfurling, flowers blooming, and critters returning from their winter refuges. Over the past few weeks, I’ve enjoyed checking the vernal pools in the surrounding forest for signs of life. Egg masses of all shapes and sizes have popped up and I look forward to the day when I find tadpoles wriggling among the submerged leaves. Spring is without doubt a magical time of year and I hope that you are all able to catch glimpses of it wherever you are!

This Week on Tech Tip Tuesday

Ever wonder which species you have not seen in a particular area?

As naturalists, our aim is to learn as much as we can about the species around us. However, the more species we accumulate in our life lists, the harder it gets to pick out the missing ones. If you have thousands of observations, how do you figure out which species are missing? Luckily, a URL exists that will allow you to view all the species you are missing for a certain area! To read more about this URL in the iNaturalist forum, check it out here.

Using this method is pretty straightforward. To start, copy this URL into your browser: This will take you to an iNaturalist page showing all the species I have not seen in Vermont (it is quite a lot—I need to get out more).

Before I tell you how to change the URL to view your own missing species, let’s take a look at what it contains. The first part, “” sends you to the website. The next section, “observations?”, takes you to the Explore page. “hrank=species” appears to display only species-level identified observations. “place_id=” is the section that pertains to where I want observations from—“47” is the ID number for Vermont. “subview=grid” means that all my Explore results will be displayed in grid format. And finally, the section that sets this URL apart: “unobserved_by_user_id=” will narrow the search to only observations of species that are unobserved by the user whose name is added. If you want to learn more about using URLs on iNaturalist, check out this TTT.

If you want to see a list of the Vermont species you are missing, all you must change is the user ID in the URL. If you do not remember what your user ID is, you can get it from your observations—it should be displayed to the right of the observation’s photo. Once you have your user ID, simply delete my ID (emilyanderson2) from the URL and add yours instead. Then hit enter.

You will see a list of observations. If you want to see a list of the species, click on “Species” in the grey bar at the top of the page.

Now, what happens if you want to see all the species you are missing for an area besides Vermont? Simple—you change the place ID number. Searching for a new place is the easiest way to do this. Click the “x” next to “Vermont” on the left-hand side of the grey box. Then, go to the Location search box and type in your new location. When you hit enter, you should see a list of species from the new place.

And that’s it!

TTT Task of the Week

This week, I want you to explore using the URL provided above. Make it specific to you and the areas you are interested in. I also challenge you to get out in your yard and see how many unobserved species you can find. Want some additional motivation for searching your backyard? Take part in the Vermont Spring Backyard Bioblitz sponsored by North Branch Nature Center, the Vermont Alliance for Half-Earth, and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies’ Vermont Atlas of Life.

Thank you for helping us map Vermont’s biodiversity, stay safe, and happy observing!

Posted on 21 April, 2020 20:07 by emilyanderson2 emilyanderson2


So far this spring, I have heard a wood cock calling from my neighbor's yard on several evenings and seen an almost all brown snowshoe rabbit hopping around my backyard a few mornings ago. Yesterday I heard a few wood frogs singing, and expect more as the weather gets warmer. Now the snow is falling, and all I see are chickadees, goldfinches, and house finches at the bird feeders, and juncos and red squirrels on the ground.

I am new to this site and still finding my way around. As much as I would like to contribute sightings of wildlife, most of them catch me by surprise, and I am not quick enough with the camera. I will probably have to stick mostly with plants for a while. If nothing else, I hope to be able to use your photos and those of others to help me identify some of what I do have here.

The link to the species you say you have not seen is interesting. I know I have seen at least some of them in the past. It gives me a better idea of what to look for.

Posted by deborah_d_53 about 4 years ago

This is very helpful, thanks a bunch!

I'm trying to build a life list and have entered in old records as casual. The problem with this, is the formula above continues to show species that I have only recorded as casual. Any suggestions how I can remove this?

Posted by jkmalkoha 3 months ago

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