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Gray-cheeked Thrush Catharus minimus


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Gray-cheeked Thrush
credit: FWS

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Turdidae, Thrushes view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mostly gray-brown upperparts, with tail same color as back. Has grayish face and cheeks with subtle pale gray eyering. Whitish throat is bordered by dark line that defines pale malar stripe. Breast is washed yellow-buff and marked with dark spots; underparts are otherwise pale, except for pale gray spots on lower breast and gray flanks. JUVENILE Gray-brown and spotted, but first-winter plumage is similar to adult, but with pale tips to wing coverts.

Dimensions Length: 6 1/2 -8" (17-20 cm)

Habitat Common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to wet, northern forests (coniferous and deciduous). Winters in northern South America.

Observation Tips Easiest to detect by listening for song and call.

Range Eastern Canada, Texas, Plains, Western Canada, Southeast, Alaska, Great Lakes, Mid-Atlantic, New England

Voice Song is a series of fluty, whistling notes, often ending in a downslurred, trilling flourish; call is a nasal piuup.

Similar Species Bicknell's Thrush C. bicknelli (L 6.75-7.25 in) is hard to separate (away from breeding grounds, which are separated geographically) unless you know Gray-cheeked well. Shorter-winged than Gray-cheeked, with warmer upperparts (tail redder than back) and subtle reddish panel on primaries. Scarce summer visitor to montane coniferous forests.

Discussion Similar to Swainson's: features to focus on include gray (not buff) cheeks and absence of buff "spectacles." Forages in leaf litter. Sexes are similar.