Belongs to: passage waders

Compare with: redshank

Ruff Philomachus pugnax

BoCC Red list

Best time to see: mid Jul to end Apr

Key facts

A medium-sized wader; in spring the male has the unmistakable ruff that gives it its name

Habitat: freshwater marshes and flooded grassland

Passage migrant and increasing winter visitor; breeds in Scandinavia and Holland, and occasionally Britain


Red legs and short bill; male variable in colour with large head plumes in spring, 28 cm; female greyish-brown, 23 cm

Feeds constantly in fields and freshwater margins, eating invertebrates and insects

No wingbar but two medium oval patches on rump


Undertakes a bizarre courtship: males form a 'lek' and fight other males for a female

Nest is a hollow on ground; one brood of four olive-brown eggs, April to May

© Robin Chittenden

© Owen Keen