Family Sandpipers, Snipes, Phalaropes (Scolopacidae)

Least Concern

Ruff (Calidris pugnax)


French: Combattant varié German: Kampfläufer Spanish: Combatiente
Other common names: Reeve (female)

Tringa Pugnax


, 1758,



Hitherto placed in monotypic genus Philomachus, but recent study indicates that latter is embedded within Calidris#R (see also under Tribe Calidrini). Since type species of Philomachus and Calidris were first proposed in same work, no clear priority prevails; First Reviser#R selected Calidris as having priority over Philomachus when species canutus and pugnax considered congeneric. Monotypic.


NW & N Europe E through Siberia to Chukotskiy Peninsula and Sea of Okhotsk. Winters from W Europe, Mediterranean and sub-Saharan Africa through Middle East to Indian Subcontinent and SE Asia, also Greater Sundas and Philippines.

Descriptive notes

Male 26–32 cm, 130–254 g, wingspan 54–58 cm; female 20–25 cm, 70–170 g, wingspan 48–52 cm. Extreme sexual dimorphism. Male has head-tufts... read more


Hardly vocal, even on breeding grounds, where during extensive display on lek remains silent. Voice... read more


Breeds in Arctic and subarctic, and S to temperate zones in Europe; requires habitat with adjacent... read more

Food and feeding

During breeding season, mainly terrestrial and aquatic insects, including adults and larvae, particularly of beetles and dipteran flies;... read more


Lays from early May in NW Europe, mid May in Sweden and early Jun in Finnmark. Polygynous, with no true pair-bond; mating primarily occurs... read more


Migratory. Chief winter quarters in Africa; huge concentrations in Sahel zone, e.g. Senegal Delta,... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Total population possibly more than 2,000,000 birds, of which > 1,000,000 winter in W Africa, up to 1,000,000 in E Africa and SW... read more

Recommended citation

Van Gils, J., Wiersma, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Ruff (Calidris pugnax). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 February 2019).