Ruff, a wading bird of the subfamily trin-ginoe or sandpipers, and the genus phihmachus (Möhr.). The bill is as long as the head, straight, rather slender, with sides compressed and grooved, and slightly dilated at tip; wings long and pointed, the first and second quills longest and equal; tail moderate and nearly even; tarsi long and slender, covered in front with transverse scales; toes moderate, the lateral ones unequal, with the outer united to the middle as far as the first joint, and the hind one elevated and short. The ruff (P. pugnax, Gray) is about 10 in. long, and the bill 1 1/4 in.; above it is varied with black, rufous, and gray, arranged in oblique bands on the scapulars and tertiaries, and whitish below; primaries dark brown, with green reflections above and with inner webs finely mottled toward the base; the tail, except the three outer feathers, transversely barred; sides of rump white, bill brown, and legs yellow. The males in spring have the feathers of the neck developed into a kind of ruff, whence the common name, and the face is covered with reddish papillae; they fight during the breeding season, unlike most wading birds; they are also polygamous, and larger than the females, and in these three respects the ruff seems to form one of the links between wading and gallinaceous birds; the females are called reeves.
The colors of the ruff vary exceedingly, and no two are precisely similar. They are natives of northern Europe and Asia, migrating southward during winter; they have been introduced into America, and are sometimes killed on Long Island. They are found chiefly in flocks, in marshy and moist districts; they feed at night on worms, insects, and larvae; the nest is made of coarse grass, and is placed in a hollow of the ground; the eggs are four or five, pointed, green with brown specks. Their flesh is esteemed; they are taken alive in nets and fattened for market; great numbers are sent from Holland to London.
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax).