Calidris pugnax

Status: Rare casual spring and fall migrant central and east.

Documentation: Photograph: 19 Apr 1994 Phelps Co (Gubanyi 1996b).

Taxonomy:  No subspecies are recognized.

Philomachus has been merged into Calidris, based on Gibson & Baker (2012).

SpringThere are five documented records, including a red-maned male at Sacramento-Wilcox WMA, Phelps Co and a black-maned male at Funk WPA, Phelps Co:

26 Mar 2005 basic, probable male, Eckhardt WPA, Clay Co (Brogie 2006)

9 Apr 1998 female northeast Antelope Co (Brogie 1999)

19 Apr 1994 Sacramento-Wilcox WMA (Gubanyi 1996b)

4 May 2002 female Branched Oak Lake, Lancaster Co (Brogie 2003)

24 May 1997 Funk WPA, Phelps Co (Brogie 1998).

FallThere are two documented records, both of juvenile males in flooded fields:

22-23 Sep 1993 near Axtell, Kearney Co (Gubanyi 1996a).

27 Sep 1998 juvenile Kirkpatrick Basin North WMA, York Co (Jorgensen 2004; Brogie 1999).

CommentsRuffs may appear anywhere other shorebirds are concentrated. There are 50+ records from neighboring states, including 25 for Iowa and 18 for Kansas; spring dates are 31 Mar-1 Jun, there is a specimen from Kansas 21 Jun 1986, and fall dates are 6 Jul-13 Nov (CBRC 2017, Faulkner 2010, Iowa Ornithologists’ Union 2017, Kent and Dinsmore 1996, Thompson et al 2011, Tallman et al 2002). Most records are in the periods late Apr-early May and late Jul through mid-Sep.

This species is a native of Eurasia, but the numbers occurring in North American strongly suggest that it is established and breeding. It was suggested some time ago (Peakall 1965) that the occurrence of juveniles in North America in fall either indicates breeding or an unlikely North Atlantic crossing against prevailing winds – the only breeding record to date, however, is from Alaska.


CBRC: Colorado Bird Records Committee
WMA: Wildlife Management Area (State)
WPA: Waterfowl Production Area (Federal)


Photograph (top) of a Ruff at Sacramento-Wilcox WMA, Phelps Co, 19 Apr 1994 by Joel G. Jorgensen.

Literature Cited

Brogie, M.A. 1998. 1997 (Ninth) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 66: 147-159.

Brogie, M.A. 1999. 1998 (Tenth) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 67: 141-152.

Brogie, M.A. 2003. 2002 (14th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 71: 136-142.

Brogie, M.A. 2006. 2005 (17th) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 74: 69-74.

Colorado Bird Records Committee [CBRC]. 2017.  Ruff records.  Colorado Bird Records Committee database, accessed 7 March 2018.

Faulkner, D.W. 2010. Birds of Wyoming. Roberts and Company, Greenwood Village, Colorado, USA.

Gibson, R., and A. Baker.  2012.  Multiple gene sequences resolve phylogenetic relationships in the shorebird suborder Scolopaci (Aves: Charadriiformes).  Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 64: 66-72.

Gubanyi, J.G. 1996a. 1992, 1993 (Fifth) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 64: 30-35.

Gubanyi, J.G. 1996b. 1994 (Sixth) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 64: 38-42.

Iowa Ornithologists’ Union. 2017.  Ruff records.  Iowa Records Committee reports of Iowa rare bird records, accessed 21 February 2018.

Jorgensen, J.G. 2004.  An overview of shorebird migration in the eastern Rainwater Basin, Nebraska.  Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union Occasional Paper No. 8.  Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.

Kent, T.H., and J.J. Dinsmore. 1996. Birds in Iowa. Published by the authors, Iowa City and Ames, Iowa, USA.

Peakall, D.B. 1965. The status of the Ruff in North America. Wilson Bulletin 77: 294-296.

Tallman, D.A., Swanson, D.L., and J.S. Palmer. 2002. Birds of South Dakota. Midstates/Quality Quick Print, Aberdeen, South Dakota, USA.

Thompson, M.C., C.A. Ely, B. Gress, C. Otte, S.T. Patti, D. Seibel, and E.A. Young. 2011. Birds of Kansas.  University Press of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen.  2020.  Ruff (Calidris pugnax). In Birds of Nebraska — Online.

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 19 Dec 2020