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Ruff - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by rayh
Titchwell, Norfolk, August 2003
Calidris pugnax

Philomachus pugnax


Male developing breeding plumage
Photo © by dacol
Newnans Lake, Gainesville, Florida, USA, April 2017

26–32 cm (10¼-12½ in)
Variable plumaged wader; male much larger than female. Small head on long neck. Legs can be green, yellow, orange or flesh-coloured.
Breeding Male Has extra-ordinary ear tufts, crest and erectile ruff - black, brown, white; barred or streaked. Belly and sides of rump are white. Black breast. Pale narrow wing bar. Bill may be brown, red or yellow.
Female, Juvenile and winter Male: brown, streaked darker above with a buffy breast.
Their feathers seem to 'ruffle' more easily in the wind than happens with other waders.

Similar Species

Winter males similar to Common Redshank but look round-shouldered and pot-bellied in comparison.


Male, developing winter plumage
Photo © by Cristian Mihai
Vadu (CT), Romania, July 2018

Breeds in the Arctic and sub Arctic regions of Northern Europe and Asia.

On migration can be found anywhere along the coast of Western Europe and at inland wetland sites.

Large numbers winter in East, South and West Africa, although birds may be found in India and further East. They will travel large distances on migration, birds from Eastern Siberia have been found in West Africa

Rare vagrant to California, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Accidental vagrant to Kansas.


This is a monotypic species[1]. Formerly placed in the genus Philomachus.


Breeds in bogs, marshes and wet meadows. Winter, and on passage, can be found on inland marshes, lake shores, occasionally estuaries.



They build their nest in a well-hidden location on the ground, and 3-4 eggs are laid.


They forage in wet grassland and soft mud. The diet includes insects, earthworms, larvae, frogs, small fish, and seeds.


A low "chut-ut".

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  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved March 2016)
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Birdwatchers Pocket Guide ISBN 1-85732-804-3
  5. Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds 1966
  6. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition
  7. Birds of the Western Palearctic interactive 2.0.3 2009

Recommended Citation

External Links