mine: warblers

My most recently completed project for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and one of my last projects!
An opening spread for a Living Bird article on avian genomics, and how studying avian genomes sometimes makes figuring out species relationships less clear, despite having more information! Can you name all the warblers depicted?

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KalanaFalana In honor of tonight’s musical ep of #TheFlash, here’s @grantgust’s first #glee BTS.  @DarrenCriss @zachwoodlee

March 21, 2017

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Ovenbird in the Open by Ray Hennessy
Via Flickr:

School Shooting [S.Smythe]

Set in season four episode eighteen (04x18) where the school shooting occurs, and you’re dating Sebastian in secret.


The first shot startled everyone quiet. No one moved and Mr. Schue paused his statement.

The second was like a confirmation that what they heard wasn’t just a slam or a firecracker a football team member smuggled into the school, but a gunshot.

People in the glee club let out yelps and shrieks as they hit the ground. Ryder grabbed you and pulled you down with him. The kids in the glee club hid behind the pianos and other items in the room as Mr. Schue and Coach turned off the lights.

You pushed yourself against the wall, heart racing at an unsafe pace. Sam and Ryder were on either side of you, and you could see Artie fall out of his wheelchair and pull himself to the wall.

“Start texting your families,” Mr. Schue ordered quietly, “let them know what’s going on but don’t tell them where you are. Shooters have cell phones too.” Quickly, you grabbed your phone and started a group text with your parent(s)/legal guardian(s).

You hear footsteps as you start spamming your boyfriend with text messages. Deciding that you had to speak to him one more time, you called him. You squeezed your eyes shut as a tear fell down your face, hearing Sebastian’s voicemail.

He didn’t pick up.

“Seb, it’s me,” you whispered in the voicemail, sniffling, “Listen, there were gunshots. Someone’s in the school with a gun. I-I’m with Mr. Schue and the glee club. I don’t know what’s going on, but-”

Someone suddenly started jiggling the handle to one of the doors, causing your classmates to yelp and cower into each other. You let out a sharp gasp and curled into yourself, starting to cry harder as you forced yourself to hold your breath.

The person ran to the other door when they couldn’t get in and wiggled the doorknob. You let out a small sob, but the person quickly left back down the hall.

You let out a shaky breath. “I love you, Seb,” you whispered, crying quietly, “I don’t know if any of us are gonna get out of here. I just wanted to tell you that I love you.” You stopped th voicemail, hiding your face in your knees.

Back at Dalton, Sebastian sat in class, not noticing his phone vibrating in his pocket as he took notes and stared at the clock, counting down the twenty minutes that was left in class.

About ten minutes later, Mr. Schue got up and went to the door. “Where are you going,” you whisper-hissed, “You can’t leave!” Mr. Schue turned to you, seeing your terrified frame. “I’m going to get Britney,” he assured you, “I’ll be back.” And then he was gone, leaving you and the rest of the glee club members in the hands of Coach.

You leaned your head against the wall, fishing your phone out of your pocket. Quickly, you dialed the one other person you could think of calling, praying that he’d pick up. “Hey, Y/N,” Hunter’s voice echoed in your ear, “What’s up?”

You let out a sob as emotions filled you, relieved that you were able to talk to your best friend, but also extremely upset at the fact that this may be the last time you’d ever talk to him.

“Y/N,” Hunter asked, concern lacing his voice as he heard you cry, “What’s wrong-” You sniffled, “There’s a school shooter, Hunt.”

Hunter was silent for a couple seconds, before he spoke again. “What did you just say?” He asked. You felt the tears roll down your cheeks as your friends began to record their possibly final words and statements to their families. “Someone shot of a gun,” you cried quietly, “The entire school is on lockdown. Someone tried to get in but the doors were locked…I…”

“Oh my god,” Hunter gasped, “Sebastian’s about to get out of class. Try to stay on the line with me, okay kid? You’re gonna be fine.” You bit your palm, trying to stop a sob that wanted to so desperately rip from your throat. “I called and texted but he didn’t answer,” you told your friend, “Hunter, I’m so scared.”

There was a knock on the door and you yelped, sending Hunter into a panic on the other line. Mr. Schue, Britney, and two other students entered the room, locking the door. “Hunter-” you went to say, but your phone suddenly died, causing you to chuck your phone across the room and let another sob escape your lips.

Hunter was shouting into the phone when the line cut off, just as Sebastian walked in. “Hey man.” He greeted, unaware of anything. He threw his bag down and walked over to his friend, furrowing his eyebrows. “Dude, the phone can’t talk to you,” he joked, “Stop yelling at it.”

Hunter looked up from his phone to Sebastian, and Sebastian’s infamous smirk faltered when he saw Hunter with tears in his eyes. “Woah, Hunter, what’s wrong, man?” Sebastian asked him.

Hunter only stared at him, “There’s a shooter at McKinley.”

That’s how the two Dalton boys ended up outside William McKinley High School, behind barriers of police officers and SWAT members. Students that were able to get out were running to meet their families or hopping onto busses to get away and off to safety.

To Sebastian’s surprise, Blaine, Kurt, Rachel, Finn, and other members of New Directions were waiting outside by the barriers. Blaine was the first to notice the two men that were out of place, being able to spot a Dalton blazer fro, a mile away.

He walked over to Sebastian and Hunter, ready to snap at them for trying something during such an awful time, but stopped himself when he saw how distraught the boys looked. Instead, he tried with a different approach.

“Hunter? Sebastian? What are you doing here?” He questioned, walking next to the blond boy. Sebastian didn’t respond, simply stared at the doors of McKinley with worry and sadness. Hunter wrapped an arm around his friend and turned his head to Blaine.

“His (girlfriend/boyfriend) is inside,” Hunter frowned, “Y/N is my best friend.” Blaine’s eyes widened at the name of his fellow glee club member, and Sebastian couldn’t find himself to give a damn that your relationship was outed. You could be dead. Blaine was the least of his worries at the moment.

“All I can think of is that voicemail,” Sebastian sniffled, “(She/He) left me a voicemail when I didn’t pick up the phone…god, (she/he) sounded so scared.”

The New Directions watched from afar as Blaine talked with the two Warblers. They were sure Blaine was giving them a piece of his mind, but were utterly confused when Blaine turned to them, shook his head, and blocked Sebastian and Hunter from their view.

“Y/N’s a fighter,” Blaine tried to reassure the boys that seemed on the edge of breaking, “I’m sure Mr. Schue is taking care of (her/him).” The three of them stared at the front doors as police officers and SWAT team members ran in and out of the school and barked orders at each other. Blaine put his hand on Sebastian’s arm, trying his best to comfort his enemy…friend?…frenemy?

It felt like hours upon hours when the captain of the SWAT team announced that the school was all clear. Moments later, students were pouring out of the doors, and even some fire escape windows, in a frantic rush. They ran down to meet their friends or family members.

Sebastian watched in panic when the flow of students began to diminish and you still weren’t in his line of sight. But then, there you were, pushing Artie out of the front doors with other members of the glee club by your side. The New Directions at the barriers ran towards their members, screaming and yelling and hugging each other.

People began swarming by Sebastian and Hunter as they reunited and ran to the busses, blocking their sights on you. “Blaine!” You yelled, jumping on your good friend in a hug. Blaine hugged you before pulling away. He pointed to the barriers, were you saw a familiar pattern of Dalton blazers push past people and shout for you.

You looked to Blaine, who gave you a smile, nodding. You turned back to the two Warblers. “Sebastian!” You yelled, taking off in his direction. The name caught the ears of many people around you, but you didn’t care. There was your boyfriend and your best friend, running towards you as they shoved people out of the way.

You began pushing past people, not caring about the scene you were making or that the entire glee club was watching you. You were so close. He was yards away…feet away…just an arms length…

And suddenly, there you were, crashing into Sebastian with a cry. He held you tight, pulling you as close as he possibly could. You both broke when your skin touched, and you nestled your head in the crook of his neck as you started crying harder than you ever have.

Sebastian kept his arms locked around your body as he, too, began to cry. Hunter was by you in an instant, wrapping his arms around the both of you. The three of you embraced each other, hiccuping and sobbing and muttering “I love you,” “I missed you,” “Don’t leave me.”

You pulled back and held Hunter in a tight hug, before you reached up and pressed your lips against Sebastian’s. It was messy, fast, and desperate, as if the two of you were trying to assure yourselves that you were okay, and that everything was fine.

A swarm of blue and red blazers invaded the grounds of William McKinley High, surrounding you, Sebastian, and Hunter. The New Directions watched in shock as the Warblers panicked over you, making sure you were okay.

“Why didn’t Y/N tell us?” Rachel asked, staring at you wrapped up in Sebastian’s arms. “Well, he is our arch enemy,” Puck replied, more surprised that you and Hunter were such good friend than you and Sebastian being a couple, “I can deal.”

You could hear what they were saying, being only about a yard or two away from them. You didn’t care, though, and it seemed that none of the Warblers did, either. You just clung onto Sebastian, who draped his blazer around your shoulders.

Hunter turned to the New Directions as the large group of Warblers started walking off the grounds. “We’re all going to Seb’s dorm to relax,” Hunter told them, “Do you want to come?” Rachel, Finn, and Kurt looked exceptionally surprised at this, as did all the members of the glee club.

“You want New Directions to come hang out with the Warblers,” Kurt asked in suspicion, “What’s your game here, Clarington?” Hunter sighed. “No game, Hummel,” he admitted, “Y/N’s my best friend and Blaine…once a Warbler, always a Warbler. You’re all good friends of our Y/N and it’s only fair that we have a truce right now. For Y/N.”

The New Directions looked absolutely shocked, but Blaine walked forward, “For Y/N.” He stood by Hunter, looking at his friends expectantly. Kurt sighed, “For Y/N.” Rachel quickly followed, then Finn, and Puck, and Artie, and soon, the New Directions and the Warblers were laying around in Sebastian’s dorm room at Dalton, watching with small smiles as you and Sebastian slept on one another, curled up on his bed.

They could handle a truce for today, if it meant that you were happy.

Teenage Dream

A/N: I don’t own Glee, or anything you might recognize here.

“Get out,” David laughed, and lightly cuffed Wes’ shoulder as he smiled at Blaine. “I can’t believe either of you are even talking about this.”

“Well, last year they spied on Vocal Adrenaline,” Blaine reasoned, spreading his hands wide.

“How is it you know this, exactly?” Wes asked.

“Show choir blogs,” Blaine reminded him, nodding.

David straightened in his chair and glanced at Wes. “Blaine, the Council appreciates your concern, but we don’t think they would do that here.”

Wes frowned, then nodded his agreement. “The Warblers’ performances are available to anyone who searches for them online. Why take the risk?”

“They don’t know our set list, or some of the changes this year,” Blaine countered.

David and Wes shared a look. The Warblers had evolved somewhat since Blaine joined them, introducing more movement (some of which could even be called choreography). But the basic Warblers’ recipe, of flawless a cappella harmonies, sung in their usual school uniforms, hadn’t budged. They’d had a lead singer for a few years, though not one as charismatic as their newest one.

“If it happens, we’ll know what to do,” Wes stated.

“When they go low, we go high,” David quoted.

“I guess you’re right, guys. Thanks for listening.” Blaine felt a bit disappointed that they hadn’t shown much interest in countering the newest serious competition in their region.

“Any time, Blaine,” David smiled. “See you at rehearsal.”

a few days later …

Blaine rushed down the stairs, checking his watch needlessly; the bustle ahead of him told him he was in danger of running late for the special performance.

“Excuse me, um, can I ask you a question? I’m new here.”

Blaine turned around, and saw the boy with the unfamiliar voice. His appearance was as unusual as his voice was: wearing what looked like a vintage Dalton uniform, beautiful eyes, and a lovely face to go with them. “My name is Blaine.” He reached out to shake hands, unable to take his eyes off the … intruder! This guy wasn’t new here, Blaine knew: all new students were assigned buddies, and any new student mid-year would have had the place buzzing hours ago. He cocked an eyebrow, and wondered if maybe his suspicions that McKinley’s glee club would send out spies had come true. A quick glance confirmed that whoever this was, he was alone here.

“Kurt,” the boy gave his name. “So, what exactly is going on?”

Blaine couldn’t help but smile back. Kurt’s smile was so cute, and he hoped to hear more of his voice. “The Warblers. Every now and then they throw an impromptu performance in the Senior Commons.” He added with a wink, “tends to shut the school down for a while.” Blaine glanced at his classmates as they headed that way.

“So, wait, the glee club here is kind of cool?” Kurt asked.

Blaine grinned, enjoying this exchange. “The Warblers are like … rock stars.” Okay, he thought, maybe that was a bit strong, but they were a beloved institution at Dalton. He saw Kurt’s eyebrows rise at this. While he wished he could have talked to Kurt longer, he knew he had run out of time. Chewing a bit on his lip, he decided to take an alternate route, to avoid leading Kurt through the school in a crowd. Wes had reminded him before to keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Well, Kurt was adorable, alone, and didn’t seem like a threat; but if he was right about him being a spy, he wanted him right where he could see him, and the inspiration that landed next made him smile. “Come on,” he reached out and grabbed an incredulous-looking Kurt’s hand, “I know a short cut.”

He led an unprotesting Kurt down a deserted hallway; one he liked to read in when he wanted a quiet nook with natural light. In those few seconds, grasping Kurt’s hand, he became aware of another thought: that it would be obvious to anyone from Dalton that the boy did not fit in, that he was vulnerable. Well, if his plan worked out, Kurt would be safe enough, he reasoned, arriving at the doorway with him just in time.

“Ooh, I stick out like a sore thumb,” Kurt breathed, looking around at the crowd.

“Next time, don’t forget your jacket, ‘new kid’” he winked again, and reached over to straighten out Kurt’s lapel. “You’ll fit right in.” He ducked towards the Warblers, nodded, and said quietly, “now, if you’ll excuse me,” and turned to take his place as their leader.

Blaine smiled broadly, as he sang the opening lines of their arrangement.

Before you met me, I was all right, but things were kinda heavy,

You brought me to life, now every February, you’ll be my Valentine, Valentine.

Blaine made eye contact briefly with Wes, and wondered if Wes caught it: that he’d found an intruder to their school, who was probably a McKinley spy. He danced with his fellow Warblers, though in the crowded Common Room they had to scale it back a bit. Whenever possible, he gazed at Kurt, singing right at him. An invitation? A challenge? He smiled at himself as he realized he was flirting, but Kurt didn’t seem to mind. Blaine noticed that his schoolmates were thoroughly into the performance, bopping around and dancing a bit as he performed. He didn’t even care if they noticed that he seemed to be singing for Kurt alone.

Then David was singing beside him, and from his smile and knowing glance towards Kurt, Blaine wondered how much David had guessed. He preened, enjoying pointing at Kurt (and having to suppress a snigger at doing such a Coop move!).

I’ma get your heart racing in my skin tight jeans,

Be your teenage dream tonight

Blaine was pleased. The Warblers had never sounded so good, and if they had planned on intimidating the competition, they couldn’t have picked a better piece. Singing a recent song, originally sung by girl, and totally owning it, he was proud of his team, and happy with his own performance. Kurt, he noticed, looked more relaxed as the song went on, noticing the crowd less, and (maybe?) getting lost in the performance, smiling back at him encouragingly. How, he wondered, did they find such a cute spy to send to Dalton?

He hammed it up on the last chorus, as the guys let loose with their fullest volume. He added in a double point at himself with the “look at me” line, nodding at Kurt as they finished, and happy that he applauded as enthusiastically as anyone else in the room.

Blaine almost lost sight of Kurt, surrounded by guys high-fiving him and the other Warblers, but hurried past his schoolmates, catching sight of him before he rounded the corner.

“Kurt!” he panted, running down the hallway to catch up. “Wait a minute!”

The boy turned around, and Blaine noticed he was blushing now, which somehow made him even cuter.

“Sorry I … I had to leave,” Kurt stammered, “that was really great.”


“Kurt,” Blaine murmured, stepping closer to him, “can we talk for a minute?” Blaine’s heart sunk as he noticed Kurt quickly became pale, and the boy was nervously looking past Blaine as they stood in the same hallway he’d taken Kurt down a few minutes before. “It’s just me,” he added in a near whisper.

“Okay,” Kurt nodded.

“You’re not really a new student here, are you?” Blaine asked, as gently as possible.

Kurt gulped, and looked all around again before answering. “No. I’m not.”

Blaine watched as Kurt’s spine stiffened, the boy standing tall and waiting now for him to speak. “I’m glad you found me, Kurt.” He smiled at the boy. “I bet we have a lot in common. We should talk.”

“Um, okay. Sure,” Kurt answered him.

“How about we meet for coffee?” It dawned on him that Kurt wouldn’t know his way around campus. “It’s here, in this building, just down at the end of this hall.”

Kurt smiled back at him shyly, and looked down at his outfit. “Maybe I could change first. I suddenly feel out of place.”

Blaine wondered if this was it, if Kurt would just run, but figured he had to give him some space. “Sure. I’ll grab us a table.” He reached up to gently squeeze his shoulder. “I’ll get us some coffee.” He frowned as Kurt nodded and quickly walked away, and then he reached for his phone, to text Wes and David.

Moments later, he sat flanked by the older boys, who already had their coffees, as well as a medium drip for himself, and a latte for Kurt (while he wasn’t a fan, the Dalton caf’s lattes were legendary).

“You really think he’ll show?” Wes asked.

“I do,” he answered, looking down at the latte he’d bought for him. “Just a feeling I have, I guess.”

David nodded sympathetically. “You did serenade him, after all,” he teased.

“Oh God,” Blaine groaned, burying his face in his hands.

“David,” Wes hissed, “I see him coming. Knock it off.”

David rolled his eyes at Wes, and pivoted so he could watch the boy’s approach.

Blaine stared at him. Kurt had changed (how had he done it so quickly, he wondered?), and was now wearing an outfit fit for a fashion plate. Suddenly, he was more dressed up than they were. Kurt was also very pale now.

“Latte?” Blaine offered, sliding the cup across to Kurt. “This is Wes and David.”

Kurt mouthed a silent ‘thank you’ and accepted it. He seemed to gather his courage before he spoke.

“It’s very civilized of you to invite me for coffee before you beat me up for spying.”

Wes, Blaine noticed, was all business as he raised his hand to dispel that notion. “We are not going to beat you up.”

David’s smile was welcoming and friendly. “You were such a terrible spy, we thought it was sort of,” and David grinned right at Blaine before turning back to Kurt, “endearing –“

Blaine cut in, not wanting to give his friends an opportunity to tease him, “which made me think that spying on us wasn’t really the reason you came.”

Back at his room, Blaine couldn’t stop thinking about Kurt. Kurt, dressed like a fashionista, but not from a family that could just send him to Dalton. Who’d had to suffer at the hands of homophobic bullies, and had been heartbreakingly vulnerable as he shared what his experiences had been like.

He shook his head. No one should have to be that brave on a routine basis at school. And if his outfit at coffee had been any indicator, Kurt wasn’t shy about owning who he was. He picked up his phone, unaware of the smile that lit up his face as he picked Kurt’s number from his contacts. He wrote a message, obliterated it, then another, rolling his eyes at his own verbosity, and put down his phone for a moment. Then he remembered something his mom had told him about Dan Rather and his famous signoff, and typed in a single word. Courage. He hit ‘send’ and lay back on his bed, unable to get the unlikely spy out of his mind.

A/N: It’s been a long time, and I do plan on updating my loooong fic, but needed to stretch a bit first. On rewatching season two this “missing scene” came to me, and it did seem to fit. I hope you’ve enjoyed, and if you have comments or feedback, I’d love to hear from you. Courage!