Ruff - Philomachus pugnax

Typical representative of its group, in its winter dress (which it wears in Italy) the Ruff is not an easy bird to distinguish.

When the males are present it is a little easier, they are larger and have longer legs and neck than the females and the majority of congeneric waders.

Often the male has contrasting colours on his wing coverts, with various tints of buff and black "droplets".

Things change with the pre-nuptial moult, when the male assumes a very striking plumage which varies from individual to individual, including tufts of various shapes and sizes round his head (giving him the name of Ruff in English, ndt) and on his back.

When he raises the latter he looks much larger than he really is. The female also acquires a rather contrasting plumage. This is the moment of the typical fights at their nesting sites in the extreme north of the European continent and Siberia.

During migration the Ruff is very gregarious and usually forms more numerous and silent flocks than other similar species. Its flight is very fast and the flocks can perform spectacular acrobatics.

On peninsular Italy the Ruff is a regular migrant, occurring more often in spring. The species is in decline.