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Sue's Bird Blog Archives

Ruff at Tonawanda WMA

Published July 28, 2014
Tags: General Observations, Ruff, shorebirds, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Short-billed Dowitchers, Pectoral Sandpipers

A Ruff was found today by Alec Humann at the west marsh in the Tonawanda WMA area. I've seen a Ruff before, but under terrible weather conditions, so seeing it in good lighting without getting drenched in pouring rain was a real treat!

I was hoping the bird would exhibit more breeding plumage because a male in that state is spectacular (I've only read and seen photos!). However, this bird was pretty subdued in coloring and was close enough in appearance to the other shorebirds that I'm pretty sure I may have overlooked it. Kudos to Alec for his sharp eye to have picked it out.

I have a few photos posted below - pretty much ID shots due to the distance - but if you're looking for this bird, perhaps they will help identify it for you.  Look for those orange legs!

The Ruff is a rare bird but a regular migrant in Alaska and along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts as well as in the Midwest.  It winters mainly in sub-Saharan Africa and breeds in the Arctic (and some more temperate places) preferring freshwater marshlands and grasslands. They eat invertebrates but will supplement their diet with plant material. Occasionally, we will see one in Western New York. My first one was seen last spring in the same, general area: Rare Ruff in Shelby.

And did you know the Ruff is mostly silent? It may give a croaking call or low grunt when in flight, but otherwise, it remains quiet.
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Ruff - most likely a female
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In the background is the Ruff along with a yellowlegs in the foreground
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Ruff
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Ruff on the left and a Pectoral Sandpiper (I believe) on the right
Reply from: Birds Lover on 8/14/2014 3:34 AM
 Birds have this habit of chirping high and loud in morning. Even smaller birds despite of their small size have got loud chirping. One who lives near forest has to go through this daily. :)
Reply from: Metis Birding on 8/15/2014 9:36 AM
 Sue-- wow! That is a pretty rare sight...I did not know that they were found around here! I would love to see a male in his breeding plumage too.