This Week’s Creature Feature: Blue Heron Dines on Hogchoker

This time of year, a bird eats what it can get

Photographed at Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge. 
      Great blue herons in the Chesapeake Bay area do not migrate in the winter. They struggle to find food when the waters freeze. They will look to areas of flowing water and sometimes stake out grassy fields to catch mice and small birds. 
      Herons from the snowier north usually migrate to warmer climates.
      This Chesapeake heron has caught a hogchoker.
      The hogchoker is a flatfish similar to a flounder. In the brackish waters of Chesapeake Bay, it eats mudworms and small crustaceans. Hogchokers are usually less than eight inches in length.
     Early farmers fed trash-fish to their pigs, but this one was very hard to swallow. That is how it got its name.