Anatomy: Ruff

Today’s anatomy lesson is a word that, to us, means a ruffled collar like those the Elizabethans wore. 

The ruff on a bird is the area around its neck where its collar would be. 

Pennsylvania’s state bird, the ruffed grouse, raises its ruff during courtship display, hence its name. 

But the real champion of ruff raising is the bird whose name is simply “ruff.”  Two of them are pictured here trying to win the affections of a female who is not called a ruff.  She is called a “reeve.”   (Go figure!)

Ruffs (and reeves) are shorebirds native to Eurasia.  They rarely visit North America and only appear in small numbers during the non-breeding season. 

Because they don’t breed here we never see them displaying this way.  Alas.  They are quite boring most of the year, making them hard to identify. 

Click here to see how boring they can be.

(photo taken in the Netherlands by Arjan Haverkamp, from Wikimedia Commons.  Click the photo to see the original)

2 thoughts on “Anatomy: Ruff

  1. The ruff’s display feathers can vary in color from individual to individual. I’m not sure if anyone has studied why this happens.

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