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Charadriiformes > Scolopacidae

Ruff

Calidris pugnax

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Identification

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A bizarre and unique shorebird. Medium-sized with fairly short, slightly drooped bill. Leg color varies from dull greenish to bright orange; bill can be entirely dark or mostly orange. Plumage highly variable, especially breeding males, which have fancy neck ruffs that can be black, white, buffy, reddish-brown, or any combination thereof. Females and nonbreeding birds can be confusing, usually plain grayish-brown overall, sometimes with blotchy markings on the neck and belly. Juveniles are bright buffy with neat scaly patterning on the upperparts. Flight often rather lazy, with deep floppy wingbeats; note white underwings, white sides to rump, and feet projecting well past tail. Males are much larger than females. Breeds in bogs and wet grassy meadows across northern Eurasia; winters mainly in Africa but also across India and Southeast Asia. Migrants occur in almost any wetland habitat, from reservoirs and fields to coastal mudflats. Feeds by probing and picking, often while in shallow water. Rare but regular vagrant to North America, usually single birds found among flocks of yellowlegs.

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Ruff

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