English and Scientific names:

Ruff   (Philomachus pugnax)

Number of individuals: 

1 adult female in worn breeding plumage- (2yf?)

Locality: LOUISIANA: 


Specific Locality:

Elm Grove quad

Shaw Lake section of pool #5. mile marker 203

Date(s) when observed:


Time(s) of day when observed:  

approximately between 2- 2:30 p.m.

Reporting observer and address:

Terry Davis

Bossier City, La. 71112

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Hubert Hervey- who first spotted the bird.

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)


Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Sun overhead and slightly to west with bird slightly backlit, to W/WSWduring part of observation. Was also observed in bright overcast conditions as clouds moved       

Optical equipment: 

Brunton eterna 11x43 binoculars – new/good condition. Fujinon 80 ED scope in good optical condition

Distance to bird(s): 

approximately 50 feet

Duration of observation:

approx. 20-30 minutes    


sand/mud flat away from main river channel

Behavior of bird: 

The indiv. was in 2-3 inches of water and standing for most of observation, occasionally turning , picking at food. The behavior noted was not overly active as often described for Ruff


): The bird appeared about the same size but proportionately longer-legged than the Long-billed Dowitchers nearby. The bird appeared comparatively dainty to the robust shape of the dowitchers.The leg color was not easily discerned during viewing but appeared to be pale but not bright flesh color. The overall head shape would be best described as between that of a Pectoral Sandpiper and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper= somewhat dove-headed. The crown was dusky. The superciliary area was also darkish, but diffusely paler than the crown. There was a white crescent above the eye but I did note/remember if there were any marks below the eye.The neck appeared longer/narrow at times during observation, but bird was observed in somewhat relaxed position during most of observation. The bill appeared short The overall short-billed look was accented by the pale lores. The bill was dark and paler near base, appearing somewhat more-so on lower mandible. The bill was mostly straight with a very faint de-curved quality. The area around the base of bill was paler than the rest of the face-.The scapulars and mantle feathers/shape/color were very distinct and attractive, each lance-shaped feather raised individually and somewhat exaggeratedly from the back much like some overly artistically done paintings of birds- somewhat like those of a large hawk or eagle. The feathers were dark-centered but were broadly and contrastingly edged with bold and very warm whitish-cream creating a noticeable scaly pattern. The tertials were also boldly barred/patterned. The bird’s belly was white. The lower chest/dark breast demarcation was somewhat reminiscent of Pec but was jagged/uneven, not smooth and the color somewhat more splotchy/smudged with slightly darker spots/areas. The neck was somewhat paler but smudgy. The entire effect of breast and neck was smudgier, less stippled than Pectoral.


not heard, although a bird was noted on a flyby (not seen well-in sun) previously that gave a distinct low, dry/hoarse and abrupt “whoof!” I mentioned to Hubert that I did not recognize the call.

Similar species:

Pectoral sandpiper- The bill shape was wrong, bird notably larger and proportionately taller. It also lacked the Calidrine dark-lored quality.

        Buff-breasted Sandpiper- indiv. was too large, tall, and lacked any buff coloring below, Did not appear as dove-headed as BBSA

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Zero. I had previously mainly studied hatch year birds in literature/guides and was not ready for this plumage. Hubert was definitely more-so ready than myself. Here is the account. I wanted to go back to the mud flat and make certain on dowitcher sp. before recording them. They appeared initially to be short-billed. We returned and new birds had arrived, mostly peeps and the Ruff was among them. I was looking at the dowitchers when Hubert, who was already on our bird and NEW what it was said “Okay, Terry, I am on the best bird of the trip”. I looked to my right and spotted the bird and said “Is that a frikkin’ Ruff!?” Hubert said “Yep, I believe so.”The first thing that stood out was the pompadour look-with feathers raised on the back. I was in a sugar funk beginning around noon. It was calm and very hot and I was very tired. The plumage seemed odd to me and I kept puzzling over the somewhat overall reminiscence to Pectoral Sandpiper, even though the details were still pointing toward Ruff  The bird, although appearing relatively as large as the dowitchers, had a daintier look. I was expecting that, were I  ever able to luck-up on a Ruff, that it would be a juvenile and look much like a “bowed-up” version of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. The lack of buff below and the large, yet also dainty appearance threw me off. It was after we left when I recalled a very important detail about this birds’ face= the pale lores, which then put it all together. Congratulations to Hubert for this awesome find! The dowitchers also were flushed and found to be Long-billed. The tails appeared more-so dark and birds gave thin “keek-keek-keek” call upon flushing

Previous experience with this species: 


Identification aids:


This description is written from: 

All information notes were recorded slightly after observation, date: 7-14 and 15

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 




Terry Davis

Date and time: