- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Turdidae
The Gray-cheeked Thrush is one of the shyest and hardest-to-identify of the thrushes in the genus Catharus. This delicate thrush has a plain grayish face, spotted breast, grayish flanks—and a beautiful, fluting song that rises and falls throughout its dense breeding habitat. Abundant in their far northern haunts, Gray-cheeked Thrushes are mainly seen sporadically during migration stopovers en route to and from South American wintering grounds. Learning their call notes can reveal their true abundance, as you may hear hundreds pass overhead on a single night.More ID Info
Find This Bird
If you can make it to their breeding habitat in late May or June, Gray-cheeked Thrushes are fairly noticeable as males sing profusely in places where forests give way to thickets or alpine meadow. Most birdwatchers will want to look for this species on migration, when this and other thrush species may gather to fuel up at fruiting bushes and trees. Learning the song and especially the call note is a great aid in finding this species.
- Zorzalito Carigrís (Spanish)
- Grive à joues grises (French)
- Cool Facts
- Gray-cheeked Thrush is one of five similar Catharus thrushes in North America that together pose one of the great (often enjoyable) challenges of bird migration. These shy forest birds look similar, though they sound quite different. Gray-cheeked Thrush is arguably the plainest, lacking the warm tones of Veery, the russet tail of Hermit, and the buffy eyering of Swainson’s. It is almost identical to Bicknell's.
- A small population of Gray-cheeked Thrushes nests in easternmost Russia. After breeding, these Russian birds are among the few “trans-Beringian migrant” songbirds—they cross the Bering Sea to migrate southward with the North American populations.
- Gray-cheeked and Bicknell’s Thrushes were only officially recognized as separate species in 1995. Most of the information published in the last century on "Gray-cheeked Thrush" concerned the Bicknell's Thrush instead of the Gray-cheeked. Although Gray-cheeked Thrush has a much larger range across North America, the Bicknell's Thrush's small range is closer to centers of human population and therefore is the more accessible species.
- The oldest recorded Gray-cheeked Thrush was at least 6 years, 11 months old when it was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in Ontario in 2005. It had been banded as an adult in Florida in 1999.