I am the first to admit that I root for the runt of any litter, clutch, or herd. I've always felt the little guy needs a hand up and a little extra feed every once in a while. My house and paycheck are far to small for all the foundlings that I see who need a little extra care and love. I do what I can for them and pray they do well.
This past summer we had a tiny, little runt of a Chickadee fluttering around from feeder to feeder trying desperately to pull seeds are to large for himself through the mesh. The other birds chased him from the feeders and he was definitely the worse for wear. His feathers were bedraggled and he had rather large bald spots where the other birds chased and pecked at him.
As much as I would have loved to catch him and bring him inside to be pampered, I had to let nature take her course. If he survived in the wild, he and his offspring would be the better for it. Sure enough, as the summer grew into fall, Scruffy started filling out and growing his feathers back. He still was tiny compared to the other Chickadees and he still looked a tad bedraggled but he was doing well for himself. I smiled every time I saw him because he was quite the cheeky little fellow, though still not able to stand up physically to the larger birds.
Saturday, when I went out do the weekly bird feeder filling, I found Scruffy dead under the Crabapple tree. His favourite place to roost and feed. He was laying under the platform feeder that the Red Squirrel has claimed as his own, chasing any and all intruders from it when he sees them. I can only assume that is what happened to Scruffy. He was bullied by either the Red Squirrel or one of the other larger birds and couldn't get away quick enough. His cheeky little calls and daring flybys will be missed.