AudioDateDownLeftRightUpCloseReportGallerySettingsGiftLanguageGridListMapMenuPhotoPlayPlusSearchStarUserIconVideo

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Catharus minimus

Order:
Passeriformes
Family:
Turdidae
Sections
  • Authors: Lowther, Peter E., Christopher C. Rimmer, Brina Kessel, Steven L. Johnson and Walter G. Ellison
  • Published: Jan 1, 2001
Listen

Free Introduction Article Access

The Introduction Article is just the first of 11 articles in each species account that provide life history information for the species. The remaining articles provide detailed information regarding distribution, migration, habitat, diet, sounds, behavior, breeding, current population status and conservation. Each species account also includes a multimedia section that displays the latest photos, audio selections and videos from Macaulay Library’s extensive galleries. Written and continually updated by acknowledged experts on each species, Birds of North America accounts include a comprehensive bibliography of published research on the species.

A subscription is needed to access the remaining account articles and multimedia content. Rates start at $5 USD for 30 days of complete access.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign In
Enlarge
Figure 1. Breeding distribution of the Gray-cheeked Thrush in North America.

This species also breeds in northeastern Asia and winters primarily in South America. See text for details.

Enlarge
Adult Gray-cheeked Thrush; spring

; photographer Kevin T. Karlson

© Cornell Lab of Ornithology

“Perhaps more than any other, I think, the present species epitomizes the genus, as known in the southern and central states, as furtive, wraithlike, wide-eyed observers in the new-leafed forests. The Gray-cheeked Thrush is better represented in the Kentucky forests than in the literature . . .

Mengel 1965b : 364

Breeding in taiga and adjacent tundra from Newfoundland to eastern Siberia, the Gray-cheeked Thrush may be North America's least-known Catharus thrush. Few ornithologists visit its remote breeding habitats, and fewer still have studied its natural history and ecology. The species shows considerable geographic overlap with 4 other thrushes, including 2 congeners—Swainson's Thrush (C. ustulatus) and Hermit Thrush (C. guttatus). Nesting habitats of these thrushes differ, however, with the Gray-cheeked Thrush primarily a bird of brushy willow-alder thickets and low spruce forests with dense undergrowth. A relatively shy species, especially during migration, the Gray-cheeked Thrush is less retiring on breeding territories and during subarctic twilight activity periods. Birders are more likely to hear this species' nocturnal flight call during spring and fall migration than to observe migrants on the ground.

The Gray-cheeked Thrush is similar in appearance to several other Catharus species, especially Bicknell's Thrush (C. bicknelli), which was only recently separated as a distinct species from the Gray-cheeked ( Ouellet 1993 ). In fact, much of the published information on “Gray-cheeked Thrush” has been based on the work of Wallace ( Wallace 1939 ) and Dilger ( Dilger 1956c , Dilger 1956b ), who studied populations of Bicknell's Thrush. Bent's Life Histories ( Bent 1949 ) devotes only 10 pages to Gray-cheeked Thrush, compared to 18 pages for Bicknell's Thrush; here, we also draw considerable information from studies of Bicknell's Thrush (see Rimmer et al. 2001 ). Surprisingly little research has been conducted on the Gray-cheeked Thrush, either on its breeding or wintering grounds. Information on the species' breeding biology is limited largely to anecdotal observations, while published data on its winter ecology, habitat use, and behavior are virtually nonexistent. Clearly this is a thrush that deserves more extensive research and attention.

Recommended Citation

Lowther, Peter E., Christopher C. Rimmer, Brina Kessel, Steven L. Johnson and Walter G. Ellison. (2001). Gray-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus), The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America: https://birdsna.org/Species-Account/bna/species/gycthr

DOI: 10.2173/bna.591