Gray-cheeked Thrush

Catharus minimus
A Gray-cheeked Thrush specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

The grayest of the North American thrushes, the Gray-cheeked Thrush (7 inches) is most easily separated from a similar species, Swainson’s Thrush, by its grayer cheeks and fainter eye-rings. Other field marks include a spotted breast, pink legs, and a medium-length bill. Male and female Gray-cheeked Thrushes are similar to one another in all seasons. The Gray-cheeked Thrush breeds in Siberia, Alaska, and across a wide swath of central and southern Canada. This species spends the winter in northern South America. During spring and fall, Gray-cheeked Thrushes migrate across much of the eastern United States, Mexico, and Central America. In summer, Gray-cheeked Thrushes breed in high-latitude evergreen forests and on shrubby tundra. During the winter, this species inhabits wet tropical forests. On migration, Gray-cheeked Thrush may be found in a variety of habitats with dense undergrowth available for foraging and cover. Many North American birders never travel far south enough to see the Gray-cheeked Thrush on its breeding grounds. This species is much easier to observe during the winter and on migration, although it is more often heard than seen due to its preference for habitats with thick vegetation. Gray-cheeked Thrushes may be observed foraging food while hopping along the forest floor or through the branches of trees. This species is most active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, it migrates mainly at night.

DC Information

Fairly common migrant in May and mid-September to mid-October. In migration, it is usually found in thick forests that have a brushy understory. Sexes are similar.

Specimen Information

Date:  10/6/1875
Collected By:  EA Mearns
Locality:  Highland Falls, NY
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  236048

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC67144 Catharus minimus (Grey-cheeked Thrush)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC67145 Catharus minimus (Grey-cheeked Thrush)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC67146 Catharus minimus (Grey-cheeked Thrush)