What is That? Seek It!

Image by iNaturalist

Here's a fun way to identify plants, animals, birds, and more when you're outdoors!

If you’re like me and enjoy being outdoors and often see a plant or tree and wonder what it’s called, try the Seek app. It’s a free phone app that lets you take pictures of plants, trees, birds, insects, fungi, and animals to identify them. It’s a project of National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences.

The app uses image recognition software to match your photo with a much larger set of images. The result is an identification that matches the taxonomy all the way to the specific name if there’s a perfect match.

Seek is a great app for kids for a variety of reasons. In addition to identifying what’s in front of them, badges can be earned and the iNaturalist.org website includes an Explore link with a world map to see all kinds of nature in different parts of the world.

Probably the best part of the app, and the most kid friendly, is the privacy control. Kids can use the app without having to worry about their data. The app only uses their location as part of mapping a photo with prior photos. No email address or login is required.

There is an online community where people can post photos for help with identification but that site is not mandatory, although it does require a login for the usual reason, to help ensure good behavior.

If you have a smartphone, definitely download the free Seek app before you go outside. I find the app really addictive on long walks. Best of all, I get to find out the name of a tree or plant or bunny rabbits that look interesting to me.

Learn More

Seek App


The iNaturalist Website


iNaturalist Explore World Map



  • Tim Slavin

    Tim is an award-winning writer and technologist who enjoys teaching tech to non-technical people. He has many years experience with web sites and applications in business, technical, and creative roles. He and his wife have two kids, now teenagers, who are mad about video games.

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