The subsequent images were taken at the National Park Neusiedlersee Seewinkel which is located in the south eastern corner of Austria / Burgenland.

This page deals with Ruffs (Philomachus pugnax).

Most of the Ruffs visible here, just put in a stop over rest on their migration flight to far northern breeding territories. Unfortunately very few arrive here for breeding purpose.

Most photos of this page were taken in April and May 2003.

When taking these pictures, most of the attracting head and neck feathers which make the Ruff cocks unique, were not jet fully developed. Nevertheless even on this images, different color groups are recognizable.

Many Ruff populations overwinter in Africa and evacuate these winter territories between March and April. After the brood period, male Ruffs start leaving the territories already end of June, the hens follow July and September.

After courtship Ruff cocks loose their decorative feathers again, and later appear like large hens.


Ruff cocks have lengths between 26 and 30 cm. As mentioned, they develop attracting decorative feathers on heads and necks during courtship season. This bird is an exemplar which is rather dark colored.

Click on the images for enlarged presentation!

  This one is a bird with bright neck tones. Like many other waders, Ruffs search for their prey usually at shallow water locations. But it is also taken from dry locations.  

During hunting for prey, Ruff cocks typically behave as loners. In relation to Ruff hens and other waders, they then can be rather aggressive. (top of page)

  Many shots of this page originate from the upper Stinkersee, a shallow pool, which is located at the Seewinkel of the Austrian Neusiedlersee. From the trail, all birding activity at the close waterside may be observed.  
  Ruff bills are a little bit bent down at the tip. The bill color is dark at the tip and may show different kinds of orange at the source side, like visible here.  
  At the courtship arena, dark Ruff cocks have reportedly the best chance to come to copulation. Unfortunately I could not watch or photograph such arena place ever. (top of page)  
  Ruffs are rather silent species. Rarely one may hear a muted snarl like "krü" or "gä-gä". The distinct eye ring like on this bird, I have not seen before that accentuated.  
  Like many other waders, Ruffs search for their prey close to shallow water locations. They pick and poke the ground for insects, larvae, and other mollusks either wading through the water or on the land.  
  Because I try to take pictures of typical bid's behavior, my focus are not just nice portrait shots. (top of page)  
  Now some images of hens. Females are a bit smaller than cocks and reach a length of between 20 and 24 cm. This shot originates from the Darscho Lacke, close to Apethlon city.  
  In case the water is a bit deeper, the birds dive heads and shoulders under water in order to detect for prey. Obviously hens are more convivial when hunting than cocks.  
  With the significant black brown flake ornaments, the upper sides of both genders look similar. The flake patterns are result of the bright colored feather seams. After loosing their decorative feathers, cocks look similar like hens, just a bit larger. (top of page)  
  Chest and back are spotted black and brown, the down side is white. Legs are yellow orange, those of chicks may be yellow brown to greenish.  
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Last Update: August 2005 - send me an email
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