These websites can help you put a name on a plant or animal you can’t identify, AND some will display your finds on a map. Also, if you live in the United States, your state's Extension Service may have guides to plants and animals in your area.
Plants and Animals
Discover Life has many online tools for learning and sharing about nature.
IDnature Guides are user-friendly keys for many different groups (like butterflies, birds, wildlflowers) that ask you to narrow the search by looking at pictures of shapes, colors etc.
All Living Things is an encyclopedia of living organisms that describes the taxonomy, natural history, distribution, abundance and ecology of each group.
(Sponsored by the National Biological Information Infrastructure, National Science Foundation, U. of Georgia, Missouri Botanical Garden, Sun Microsystems and U.S. Geological Survey)
Volunteers identify images submitted to the Organisms photo page. Check out the many photos of identified critters. Global Schoolyard Bioblitz, is one of many Project Noah “missions”. Your photos will be added to global(!) map. By narrowing the map’s area you’ll find what has been seen near YOU.
(Originated from New York University, sponsored by National Geographic Education)
Project Squirrel was set up in 2009 to record squirrel activities. It can help you recognize activities of different squirrel species.
Journey North is a project where you can learn more and share information about Monarch Butterflies, Hummingbirds, Whooping Cranes, Gray Whales, Bald Eagles, as well as other nature topics.
After you’ve registered with a password, you can post sighting reports on the season’s map. There is also a place for your own historic records that you can retrieve in the future.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology
“All About Birds/Bird Guide” lets you identify birds starting with their basic shape or general category (like hummingbirds, hawks or gulls). After you identify your bird, the website tells you about its life history and songs.
The Great Backyard Bird Count for Kids is also a program from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They ask you to count birds for at least 15 minutes at one location on one or more days. Your report to their website will be posted to a map!
If you map out the trees and plants in your backyard, and track the birds you see there, you could add that data to the Yard Map part of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website. New technology helps you use satellite images to draw maps. Catch the tips on attracting birds to your yard.
Discover Life, described under “Plants and Animals” above, also has bird information.
Insects and other Invertebrates
You can start your search by clicking onto general invertebrate shapes on the bug guide chart, or scan through the taxonomic levels in the Guide section of the website. There are lots of invertebrate photographs at many taxonomic levels to help you. If you post a photograph on the “ID request” page, volunteers will help you identify your critter.
The Info section, where invertebrates are listed taxonomically, will tell you more about how to recognize groups, their ranges, habitats, ecology and life cycles.
Bee Hunt is looking to find where bees are in the U.S. by using a network of schools and other research sites. You can join the fun!
Backyard Bee Count is a summertime count that began in 2012. You observe bees in your yard for 15 minutes, then enter your data that will be recorded on a map of the United States, This site emphasizes bees on sunflowers in August, but you can report information from other flowers too.
Project Noah Missions
Global dragonflies and damselflies, and Global butterflies and moths are two of the exciting missions you can join.
Discover Life, described under “Plants and Animals” above, also has insect information.
(Sponsored by NEON, and the National Science Foundation)