Male Northern Cardinal. Photo by Tom Murray on Flickr CC BY-NC-2.0

If you live in eastern North America, you might be lucky enough to have seen a gorgeous bird called the northern cardinal. The male is especially distinctive, with his breathtaking red plumage and black “mask” on his face.

Up here in Canada, the cardinal is at the northernmost part of its range. We’re especially fortunate that, unlike many songbirds, cardinals don’t migrate south for the winter. We get to enjoy their presence year-round.

But what on earth do the cardinals eat here, when parts of Canada might be covered in several feet of snow?

Cardinals probably don’t have trouble finding sustenance in areas that are relatively mild in winter, such as the southern US or Mexico, but how can they forage for food on the ground in snowy climates?

Actually, they don’t need to fight their way through the snow to where seeds might lie hidden underneath. God has arranged it so that the fruits and seeds of certain trees and shrubs don’t drop to the ground in autumn, where they’d soon be covered with snow and inaccessible to the hungry birds. Rather, God designed it so that some berries stay on the vine or branch during the winter so the birds can have easy access to them.

The mountain ash is one of the few trees to retain its nutritious berries through the winter, providing an important source of food for non-migratory birds like our friend the cardinal. The fruits of roses, called hips, also stay attached to their shrubs during the barren season.

Snow-covered mountain ash berries. Photo by skeeze on Pixabay.

Seeing these nutrient-packed jewels reminds me that even in winter, God provides sustenance for the birds.

“Look at the birds in the sky! They don’t plant or harvest. They don’t even store grain in barns. Yet your Father in heaven takes care of them. Aren’t you worth more than birds?” (Matthew 6:26)

Seeing how God takes care of the needs of the cardinal in cold and snowy Canada should encourage us, too. Even in our trials and difficulties, God will make sure we’re still provided for. He won’t let us go hungry or leave us without help in the winter seasons of our lives. He arranges ahead of time for provision for us.

“I have been young and now I am old. And in all my years I have never seen the Lord forsake a man who loves him; nor have I seen the children of the godly go hungry.” (Psalm 37:25)

Just as God provides for the cardinal at a time when nothing is growing, He’ll make sure that you and I have everything we need, too.

He is Jehovah Jireh, the Lord our Provider.

Isn’t that reassuring?

© 2020 Lori J. Cartmell. All rights reserved.

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