Our backyard is a haven for the fowls of the air and small animals that can weasel their way through the slats of the old dilapidated and unpainted fence. There are no cats or dogs to chase the beautiful birds away from the feeders. The squirrels and birds enjoy the area feeders and bird bath.
Out the double breakfast area window I have watched with great interest the little animals and fowl that frequent our yard. I’ve often tiptoed lightly, with camera in hand, to capture their antics. From the cardinals I offer these lessons.
Cardinals select a mate – It was on the fifth day of creation that God made the fowls of the air (Genesis 1:20-22). The cardinal is a favorite bird of many people. The beautiful male red bird chooses a mate in early Spring.
Cardinals mate and produce after their kind – It is interesting that the birds do not mate with other birds. The cardinal mates with the cardinal, the blue bird with a blue bird, the robin with a robin, the sparrow with a sparrow, etc. After the great flood God spoke to Noah saying, “Go out of the ark, you and your wife, and your sons and your sons’ wives with you. Bring out with you every living thing of all flesh that is with you: birds and cattle and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth, so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth. So Noah went out, and his sons and his sons’ wives with him. Every animal, every creeping thing, every bird, and whatever creeps on the earth, according to their families, went out of the ark” (Genesis 8:15-19). God’s plan is perfect for the animal kingdom, the home and the family.
Cardinals mate for life – One male and one female for life is the way of the cardinal. The same way God planned for His children to set up their homes for life. One man and one woman until death parts them (Genesis 2:23-25).
Cardinals build a home – The male and female birds work together to build a home. Immediately that is their goal when they have chosen each other. They have left their father and mother and devote themselves to their little nest, to their little home. God set that plan in action long ago for man when He instituted the home. He said it beautifully, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife” (Ephesians 5:31).
Cardinal male is head of the home – I have watched the cardinals fly across the yard with the male leading the way. She is often right behind him. God planned for the male to be the head of the home (Ephesians 5:22-25). Whether seeking twigs for the home they are building, or watching for the unsuspecting insect on the ground, they are always near each other. There’s something noteworthy about the example of the birds even for us humans. Husbands and wives that delight in being with each other, cleaving unto each other, seldom find interest in others outside their marriage vows.
Cardinal male provides food for his mate – The attention of the male cardinal to his mate is beautiful. I have watched him sit on the bird feeder while she is standing on the ground near by. I have observed him choosing some special seed and flying down to give it to his mate. The beauty of God’s plan for the husband as the provider of the home can be seen in the birds. Time and time again, he flew to the feeder and dropped back down to the ground to give his mate the best he could find. (See picture above.) She seemed content with his findings. I didn’t witness any ruffled feathers, nor frightful fits, because he didn’t bring just what she thought was the right seed. She, like Paul long ago, learned contentment with such things that she was given (Philippians 4:13).
Cardinals protect each other – The birds work together to build their homes. They work together in caring for each other and protecting their home. Let a predator enter their area, and the birds immediately become protective of their zone. Swooping down toward the predator at a high speed, the enemy soon leaves the area for their own protection.
Cardinal female is keeper at home – The birds enjoy their love and the female sets about the task of nurturing the fertilized eggs to maturity. He keeps close watch from a limb nearby and is always ready to protect his mate. Husbands are the protector of the home.
Cardinals care for their young – When the baby cardinals hatch, they are kept warm underneath the loving wings of their parents. The birds protect their young. For their growth the father and mother birds search for small insects to feed their little ones. Soon the little birds down is replaced by feathers, and they outgrow their nest.
Cardinals train their young – The day comes when the little bird hops onto the side of the nest and flutters his wings. One by one the mother and father bird fly away from the nest to a nearby limb, setting the example and encouraging their little one to follow them. The training continues until the little bird flutters away. Just as the mother and father birds know their babies must be taught to fly, and to search for their own food, they go about the task of training them. God planned the same for us long ago when he said, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:1). Birds don’t forget their training. Again in Ephesians 6:4, fathers are to not provoke their children unto wrath but to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Cardinals are patient with their young – If the little bird happens to fall to the ground, the parents don’t get upset and reprimand him strongly. Just as a parent will stop and pick up a child that has fallen, and set them on their course again, the birds fly down to the ground and keep flying back and forth showing their baby that he can fly just like them, if he will only try. Often they have to take the little bird food on the ground. The day comes when the little bird is successful and flies away to start his own life cycle.
Cardinals live for only a year – According to research cardinals live only a year. Death comes to the birds as well as all living things on the earth. Consider the birds of the sky. God provides for them all year-long, even without our bird feeders. It is comforting to know that not one of them falls to the ground without our heavenly Father being aware of it (Matthew 10:29). The same is true with our Father’s deep love for us. He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us, and we can rest on that promise (Hebrews 13:5). Someone has said, “The old must die but the young do die.” Everything has a lifespan.
Consider the birds of the sky and the lessons they can teach us. If our heavenly Father cares for the birds of the sky, how much greater is His love for us? With that knowledge we should mount up with wings like eagles (Isaiah 40:30-31).