Beak of the Week: Ruff

I have been fortunate to spot this beautiful wading bird in Europe several times. This gregarious sandpiper is a migratory bird that can be found throughout Europe, Africa, southern Asia and Australia.

With a fairly distinctive appearance, the Ruff has a relatively small head, medium-length bill, longish neck and prominent body. Its long legs are usually yellow or orange. Generally, the male is much larger than the female and develops elaborate breeding plumage.

A Ruff, Philomachus pugnax

Common Name: Ruff

Latin Name: Philomachus pugnax

Range: The Ruff is a migratory species.  It breeds in the wetlands of colder regions of northern Eurasia, and mainly spends the northern winter in Africa.

Habitat: Marshes, wet meadows, damp grasslands, and deltas with shallow water.

Diet: Ruffs feed on terrestrial and aquatic insects such as beetles and flies.  Additionally, they will gladly feast on grasshoppers, crustaceans, spiders, mollusks, worms, frogs, and small fish, as well as the seeds of rice and other cereals, grasses and plants.

Conservation Status: Least Concern

Ruff on the run!
Territorial Male Ruff

Fun Fact!

The name Ruff is derived from the exaggerated collar fashionable during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  As you can see, this decorative neckwear resembles the male bird’s ornamental neck feather.

 “Portrait of a Woman” (1628) by Michiel Jansz van Miereveldt

Happy Birding!

Danielle + Michelle

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