Belongs to: passage waders

Compare with: redshank

Ruff Philomachus pugnax

BoCC Red list

Best time to see: mid Jul to end Apr

Key facts

Redshank-like wader, in spring 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 femaleNest is a hollow on ground

Nest is a hollow on ground; 1 brood of 4 olive-brown eggs, April to May

  • Main photo
  • winter

Photo © Robin Chittenden

Photo © Owen Keen