• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

A Backyard BioBlitz

Air Date: Week of

Mark Fabian holds a bug for his daughters Luna and Sage to examine. (Photo: Bobby Bascomb)

Every year, citizen scientists around the world participate in BioBlitzes: brief, intensive surveys of biological diversity over a set area and time. In 2020, social distancing didn't stop over 300 participants in 27 countries from cataloging observations of the world around them a single 24 hours. Living on Earth's Bobby Bascomb, her husband Mark, and daughters Sage and Luna joined inApril 5 and uncovered a multitude of life in their own backyard.


CURWOOD: On April 5th BioBlitz brought together 300 plus participants at a social distance in 27 countries who took photos of plants and animals close to home and used the iNaturalist app to identify and log in those observations for scientists. Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb took part along with her husband, Mark, and daughters Sage and Luna, aged five and two. They got started at a kitchen window with a view of their bird feeders.

LUNA: Can you sit next to me in another chair?

MARK: Yes.

SAGE: Looking for birdies.

BASCOMB: What do we see?

SAGE: A woodpecker.

BASCOMB: How do you know it’s a woodpecker?

SAGE: Because it pecks.

A woodpecker at the Bascomb-Fabian family bird feeder. (Photo: Bobby Bascomb)

BASCOMB: I see another animal under the other bird feeder. What do you see, Luna?

LUNA: I think that’s a squirrel

BASCOMB: Well, let me get a picture of the squirrel so we can share it on the app.

SAGE: So cute

BASCOMB: Now I’m going to hit the green share button. Okay, I loaded a picture of the squirrel and it gives me a few suggestions for what kind of squirrel it could be. But what do you think? Which kind of squirrel do you think it looks like of these pictures here?

SAGE: Let's see. Put it put your phone on the window.

BASCOMB: Oh, you want to hold it closer. Okay. Now what do you think?

SAGE: That one.

BASCOMB: Eastern grey squirrel? Yeah, I think you're right. Why do you think it looks like that one?

SAGE: Because it's in the yard.

BASCOMB: Yeah, it's in a yard.

SAGE: And it looks just the same!

BASCOMB: Oh, look, look look. What's that one?

LUNA: I think that’s a red bird!

BASCOMB: A red bird. What kind of birdy is that?

SAGE AND LUNA: A cardinal, cardinal!

SAGE: Is it a boy?

BASCOMB: Yeah, I think it is. Why do you think it’s a boy, Sagey?

SAGE: Because it’s much more prettier.

BASCOMB: The boys are much prettier, are they brighter red?

MARK: We have a bunch of species here. I think there’s a chickadee there. There’s some type of thrush down there. We’re not getting pictures of them, it’s happening too fast.

LUNA: I want to go outside and look for more animals.

Luna holds some worms out for the camera. (Photo: Bobby Bascomb)

BASCOMB: Ok, that’s a great idea.

LUNA: Let’s go.

BASCOMB: Alright, let’s get our boots on.

LUNA: I need help getting down.

SAGE: Luna, come on! I got my boots.

BASCOMB: You’re all set.

door opens SFX walking down the steps

SAGE: We should start in our back yard.

BASCOMB: Ok, let’s start in our back yard. That’s a great idea.

[chicken sounds]

SAGE: Hey Luna, here’s the chickens!


BASCOMB: What are they having for treats today?

LUNA: They’re having peanut butter and bugs!

BASCOMB: Peanut butter and bugs?

LUNA: yeah.

BASCOMB: Alright, well these count. Let’s take a picture.


BASCOMB: What should we do next, honey?

SAGE: Follow me


SAGE: Keep your eyes open, Luna!

BASCOMB: Luna, what do you see?

LUNA: A robin.

BASCOMB: You see a robin?

SAGE: Luna, do you want to look under a log?

Sage investigates a creepy crawler. (Photo: Bobby Bascomb)

LUNA: Yeah.

SAGE: Let’s do it. Come on.


SAGE: I want to hold it!

LUNA: I want to hold it!

FABIAN: I don’t know if you want to hold that actually it might bite.

SAGE: No, I remember it doesn’t bite.

FABIAN: Here’s a worm for you, Luna.

LUNA: A worm, it’s so cute.

SAGE: Luna, worms are good for our garden because they make more soil.

SAGE: Let’s roll the log back and give the wormies their home.

LUNA: There’s another log over there! I want to turn it.

SAGE: 22:06 A worm!

LUNA: I want to hold it. I want to hold it!

MARK: Oh, there’s a creepy crawly right there.

LUNA: I want to see!

SAGE: Creepy crawly, creepy crawly!

MARK: It’s very creepy crawly, I don’t even want to be holding it myself. They’re not scared by it at all.

BASCOMB: No, they’re not.

SAGE: I love you creep! cutie baby, cutie baby! You tickle too much!

BASCOMB: Does it tickle your hand?

LUNA: I want to hold it, I want to hold it!

BASCOMB: Look girls, what’s that in the tree?

SAGE: What?

Some of the earthworms discovered in the Bascomb-Fabian backyard. (Photo: Bobby Bascomb)

BASCOMB: You see that bluebird there in a tree, it just flew down to a bush.


MARK: That’s a Blue Jay calling actually. I can hear it calling. There’s a cardinal in the tree too.

BASCOMB: Ok, what should we do now Sagey?

SAGE: I’m done. Let’s go inside and get a treat!

BASCOMB: And get a treat?

SAGE: Yeah!

BASCOMB: Was this fun?

SAGE: yeah!

LUNA: It was fun giving the mama chickens their treats.

BASCOMB: Well, let’s head back in.


CURWOOD: That’s Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb and her family, Mark, Sage, and Luna, who submitted 17 entries for the bioblitz. For pictures of some of the creepy crawlies they found visit the Living on Earth website LOE dot org. 



The iNaturalist Website

Listen to Living on Earth’s coverage of the 2019 City Nature Challenge, an international bioblitz


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth