10+ Naturalist Resources for Identifying Wildlife

The animals we see, the sounds we hear, the forests, meadows and riverbanks we explore, all tell a story. As curious individuals, it can be difficult to recognize what we’re looking at, and lugging around field guides can add a substantial load. Luckily, there are a number of sites that can help us identify a feather, track down an animal print or teach us more about a flower. This knowledge increases our understanding and appreciation of the story told by the natural world.  As you explore, it helps to record details on your observations (size, color, shape, etc.) in a journal, snap a picture or sketch what you see.

Once you have that information, these sites can steer you in the right direction and hopefully lead to an identification!

Birds, Nests and Feathers

  • The Feather Atlas (pictured) by the Forensics Lab at USFWS Additional Online Search Resources – Resource to help identify feathers.
  • Bird Guide for North America – A great online guide to birds and birdwatching for those curious about our feathered friends.
  • NestWatch – Browse through common nesting birds that nest and see if you can identify what you’re looking at.
  • Whatbird.com – You can click to browse birds by state, shape, color and more.

The Feather Atlas   Feather Identification and Scans   U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory

For Insects:


For Plants:


For Fungi:

For All Species:

  • eNature (pictured) offers helpful information to many of the species in North America and is especially helpful when using advanced search.

Or ask your questions in communities where a naturalist or expert can help:

Enature advanced search

Additional Resources:

Searching for Answers…

One of the most helpful ways to get down the right path in identification is using search engines like Google or Bing to head down the right path. I always consider my location-specific resources (like educational institutions, nonprofits or local government resources) and connect with local naturalists whenever possible. Please share your favorite identification resources in the space below!