Greetings from the frozen woodlands! I’ve spent the last week huddled more closely to the woodstove, trying to stave off the February chill – except when I bundle up to go for my daily walk, that is. As long as the sun is shining and the wind has died down, walking a mile in below-freezing temperatures can be remarkably comfortable, particularly when the alternative is not leaving the house at all for a week or longer. Still, I’ll be glad when spring rolls back around and I can return to a more-regular and less-swaddled outdoor schedule.
Spring also returns many birds to our area, and local birding is now easier than ever thanks to the new Taxonomy Explorer feature in Birds of the World. Click the “Explore Taxonomy” link at the top of the homepage, and filter by a family or species to get a quick visual guide to the available species descriptions. Filter by conservation status, and you can quickly see the most-threatened species, or explore the variety in our most common birds. You can also filter by location, including U.S. counties, so it’s easy to quickly see the species resident where you are – wherever you are! Sadly, the Explorer still only shows two corvid species in Washtenaw County (the blue jay and the American crow); looks like I’ll have to wait a little longer for the ravens to move in.
While I’m waiting, I’m pleased to relate some good news on the scientific publishing front. The Big Ten Academic Alliance (BTAA) has announced an agreement with the Public Library of Science that allows U-M researchers to publish in the journals PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine without incurring any open-access fees. You can read more about the deal at the official PLoS blog, or in the PLoS FAQ for the Community Action Publishing program that applies to these two journals. BTAA is piloting this program for three years, so let me know if you find it to be useful! (For a complete list of open-access publishing discounts currently available to U-M authors, see our Scholarly Publishing guide.) And finally, if you need some new music to accompany your next writing session, take a look at my recent thread of recommendations on Twitter: all Black artists available on Bandcamp, in honor of Black History Month. There’s another Bandcamp Friday coming up on March 5th, so you’ve got plenty of time to work on building your wishlist. And remember to follow me on Twitter for more music links, office hour announcements, and library-related news!