Exploring the gospel principles of earth stewardship

Good Friday Birds

According to scripture, Jesus is the god of nature, and when he died creation itself shook. Before he died, one legend and popular story relates that birds attempted to free him from the cross by prying at the nails in his hands and feet. As a result, the tips of their beaks became permanently crossed, and their feathers became stained by the blood of Christ.

White-winged Crossbill, Spruce Run Reservoir, New Jersey


These birds are the crossbills, several species of related finches that live across the northern climes of both the old and new worlds. If all things testify of Christ, the biology birds don’t actually testify to the nails and blood of Christ’s resurrection so much as they do to the lengthy duration of Christ’s creation of the earth–to the thousands of generations of crossbills that gained their unique beaks and habits by specializing in opening the cones of pine and spruce trees. According to their genetics, about 8 million years ago they were finches that shared ancestors with their cousins the redpolls. The fossil record indicates that as far back as two million years ago, crossbills were already flying around the Pliocene of Bulgaria.

Millions of years of crossbills and coniferous forests adapting to each other, overseen by their creator, experiencing joy in the sphere of their creation. As inheritors of these forests, we honor these birds and their Creator by preserving that sphere. So on this Good Friday, as we think about Jesus on the cross, perhaps we can also think on the legend of the crossbills, as well as their history and our duty to their creation. All things testify of Christ–as long as we learn to recognize, and protect, their living testimony.

  • Sprout says:

    Beautiful post, Rob! I really enjoyed learning more about these birds. I think there is tremendous power in learning the names and attributes of different species. It really helps us to think differently about them when we get to know them a little better. Thanks!