breeding birds, mainly males
The Ruff, Philomaches pugnax is a medium-sized wader.
Their breeding habitat is bogs, marshes and wet meadows with short vegetation in northern Europe and Russia. Ruff are migratory, wintering in southern and western Europe, Africa and India. They are highly gregarious, with a wintering flock of 1 million birds reported in Senegal.
These birds nest in a well-hidden location on the ground, laying 3-4 eggs. The males display at a lek during the breeding season, standing erect, crouching or taking a variety of postures with the ruff erected. They may jump into the air. They are silent while displaying and when not breeding.
These birds forage in wet grassland and soft mud, probing or picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects and earthworms.
These birds have a distinctive "gravy boat" appearance, with a small head and medium bill, longish neck and pot-bellied profile. Males are larger than females. They have longish usually yellowish legs, and show white ovals on the tail sides in flight.
Breeding males have black, chestnut or white neck ruffs. Their backs are grey-brown and the underparts white except for the black breast. Females are grey-brown above and white below. In winter, both sexes are a paler grey above and white below and can be differentiated only by size. Young birds are like winter birds, but buff below, and their upperparts have a more scaly appearance.
A ruff is also an extended stiff collar, like that of the bird, formerly worn as an item of clothing.