The Ruff (Calidris pugnax) is a medium-sized wading wetlands bird. It is a Sandpiper in the Scolopacidae family of shorebirds.
The Ruff is a long-necked bird with a small head and a rounded belly. It is grey-brown with white and grey mottled underparts. It has colourful black, chestnut or white head tufts. It has a medium-sized black beak. It has long yellow or orange legs.
It grows to 29-32 centimetres (11-13 inches) tall, with a wingspan of 54-60 centimetres (21-24 inches).
The Ruff is native to Eurasia, in northern Europe and northern Asia. It prefers marshes and wet meadows. It is a wader, walking through watery ponds and pools.
It is migratory, and flies south or west in winter, to the warmer locations of Europe, Africa, southern Asia, and as far south as Australia and New Zealand.
It forages in soft muddy water for food. It eats insects, such as beetles, grasshoppers, and flies.
The female lays 4 eggs in a well-hidden nest on the ground. The nest is made of grass and leaves. The female sits on the eggs and takes care of her young.
The eggs hatch after 20-23 days. The chicks are precocial, because they are born with some soft feathers, called down feathers. (Altricial chicks are born without feathers.)
The average lifespan of the Ruff is 4-5 years.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM