This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
The Ruff (Philomachas pugnax) belongs to the sub-family Tringinae or Sandpipers, and is noted for the "setting" of neck feathers in the male, specially developed at the breeding season. This, called "ruff," is not developed until the second year of the male's life. The females are termed "reeves," at the sight of which the males, polygamous and outnumbering the females, fight desperately for the possession of their mates during the breeding season. The Ruffs are birds of passage, and less frequent in the fen districts than formerly. Taken in large nets and fattened, they are dressed for the table like woodcocks, without withdrawing the intestines or their contents, which are considered by connoisseurs as affording the most delicate kind of seasoning for these birds.