The ruff breeds in extensive lowland freshwater marshes and damp grasslands. It avoids barren tundra and areas badly affected by severe weather, preferring marshes and deltas with shallow water.
The ruff normally feeds using a steady walk and pecking action, selecting food items by sight, but it will also wade deeply and submerge its head. Diet consists of larva insects, including caddis flies, water-beetles, mayflies and grasshoppers, crustaceans, spiders, molluscs, worms, frogs, small fish, and also the seeds of rice and other cereals, sedges, grasses and aquatic plants.
The ruff is a migratory species, breeding in wetlands in colder regions of northern Eurasia, and spends the northern winter in the tropics, mainly in Africa.
It breeds in a very few lowland sites in eastern England. Males display during the breeding season at a lek in a traditional open grassy arena. The female has one brood per year and lays four eggs in a well-hidden ground nest, incubating the eggs and rearing the chicks, which are mobile soon after hatching, on her own.
The species is threatened by petroleum pollution, wetland and flood-plain peat-extraction, and land abandonment and changing land management practices that lead to scrub and reed overgrowth.
Classified as Least concern.
- Latin Name: Philomachus pugnax
- Class: Birds
- IUCN status: Least Concern
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