Ruff at Boundary Bay, British Columbia

This Ruff in first winter plumage was in front of the 12th Street viewing stand at Boundary Bay Regional Park near Vancouver, British Columbia on 29 January 2019. Please watch video as it struts about among Greater Yellowlegs.


I asked Killian Mullarney, coauthor of the classic Collins Bird Guide to the Birds of Britain and Europe, for comments on age. He said "Thanks to the large extent of retained juvenile wing coverts the Boundary Bay Ruff can readily be aged as a first-winter. Some first-winters at this time of year have moulted most of the visible-at-rest inner wing coverts and we need to look hard to locate one or two tell-tale juvenile feathers. The scapulars and mantle feathers, by contrast, have pretty much all been replaced in the post-juvenile moult."


Killian Mullarney added annotations to the age of the different feather tracts. Barbara Charlton, who was with me, took this photo. Boundary Bay on 29 January 2019


It was smaller than the Greater Yellowlegs. Its legs were a greenish-yellow, its bill was shorter with a very slight decurve and yellowish at the base. Boundary Bay Regional Park on 29 January 2019. Killian Mullarney also commented:


"Despite the rather large size difference between males and females, sexing single Ruff is not always that easy, with some seeming to fall somewhere in the middle, probably on account of posture more than actual overlap in size. It is helpful here to have several Greater Yellowlegs alongside for comparison, in the video-clip. The average male Ruff should be around the same size as a Greater Yellowlegs, whereas a female will be obviously smaller, closer in size to a Common Redshank in my experience. Males often look distinctly large-bodied and rather small-headed, whereas females are generally not very different in proportions from, for example, a Pectoral Sandpiper (though obviously not as long-winged as Pectoral). Having viewed the video several times I am confident that the Boundary Bay bird is a female, since it is so obviously smaller than all of the yellowlegs it walks past." Boundary Bay on 29 January 2019.


It's in first winter (basic) plumage with dark along the shaft. The coverts are all the same and appear to be retained juvenile coverts. Boundary Bay Regional Park on 29 January 2019.


It's very different in shape and size from the Greater Yellowlegs it generally stayed with. Boundary Bay on 29 January 2019.


It has been in the area since November 2018, and possibly earlier. Many reports and photos are on eBird. Barb Charlton and I were thrilled to see it up close and in beautiful light. Boundary Bay Regional Park on 29 January 2019.