A vigilant pair of northern mockingbirds have set up house for their chirping newborns hidden in a bush near the entrance to the Red Bank Public Library. Though library staffers cordoned off the bush with yellow tape, the adult birds – which the National Audubon Society describes as “strongly territorial” – occasionally swoop down on visitors.
“You might experience a flutter of wings on your shoulder or back as they try to protect the nest,” a note taped to the library door explains. “They have startled people, but not harmed them.”
The note includes this passage from Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird:”
“Atticus said to Jem one day, ‘I’d rather you shoot at tin cans in the back yard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.’
That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it.
‘Your father’s right,’ she said. ‘Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.'”
The birds are expected to stay only a week or two, until the babies are ready to fly. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)