Make a life list of animals

Tips on keeping track of the animals you see.

Quick, jot down the names of ten animals you’ve seen in the last month. Any kind of creature will do, from that spider you spied skittering across the floor to the pet pooch you just let in the front door. Congratulations! You’ve just started your “life list” of animals. Now it’s time to add more. Don’t worry about a deadline—you have the rest of your life!

We’re borrowing the idea of a life list from avid bird watchers, who record the species names of every feathered friend they spot. Your list can go beyond birds to include all the animals you’ve seen on land, under the ocean waves, and in the air. Think of it as a way of “collecting” your favorite creatures without interfering with them in the wild.

How to Take Fun Photos in Nature To help you get your best shots while you're out exploring nature, we've asked Nat Geo Young Explorer and wildlife photographer Gabby Salazar to share a few photo secrets. Watch this episode of Photo Tips With Hilary to learn some cool tricks.

If the idea sounds daunting, then heed these tips! Start with a safari in your backyard. You’d be amazed at all the birds, bugs, and small critters you’ll find in your own neighborhood!

Keep a wildlife encyclopedia or reference guide and a pad of paper handy when you go on camping trips or cross-country rides so you can add animals farther afield. You’ll want to transfer your list to a computer word document or even an online blog.

Convince your friends to start their own life lists and share tips for the best wildlife-viewing spots. Comparing sightings is half the fun! Now, get out there and keep your eyes open. Happy hunting!