Grayish brown above (warmer brown in Atlantic Canada), grayish below, especially on the flanks, with dark stippling or spotting on breast and sides of throat. The face pattern is plain compared to other thrushes, with grayish lores and a faint, incomplete eyering.
Gray-cheeked Thrushes forage by consuming fruit in trees (or on the ground) and taking invertebrate prey on the ground with a quick peck. This small thrush tends to remain hidden, making it difficult to observe.
Breeds in willow-alder thickets and dense undergrowth in stands of spruce, balsam fir, other conifers, or cottonwood trees. Migrants and wintering birds occupy many habitat types, but tend toward well-developed understories and berry bushes.
Gray-cheeked Thrush has two subspecies. "Northern" Gray-cheeked (aliciae) occupies most of the species’ vast breeding range. The smaller "Newfoundland" Gray-cheeked (minimus) breeds only in Atlantic Canada and has warmer brown (rather than grayish) back and flanks, a more intense cream color below, and a more extensive and brighter yellow base to the mandible (the lower part of the bill).