Gray-cheeked Thrush

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Catharus minimus

Gray-cheeked Thrush

The Grey-cheeked Thrush is a medium-sized thrush. It has the most northern breeding range. It has a small bill with a yellow base. It has a grayer face than the Swainson's Thrush and lacks the buffy eyering. It is nearly identical to Bicknell's Thrush, which shows slight reddish wash to plumage.

Adults have olive upperparts with gray-brown tinge. The underparts are whitish with dark spots on the pale yellowish breast. Flanks are washed gray-brown, whereas the area from belly to undertail coverts is white with gray wash.

Forehead, crown and nape are like the upperparts. The face is grayish with indistinct pale eyering. A dark brown malar stripe extends down to neck sides and breast.

The bill is dark horn with pale pinkish (winter plumage) to orange-yellow (breeding plumage) base of lower mandible. The eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are flesh-colored to pale pinkish.
Males and females are similar.

Juveniles resemble adults, but their upperparts are spotted and streaked pale buff, and the greater coverts are tipped pale buff. The underparts are barred gray-brown.

Both sexes are about 6.3 - 6.7 inches in length and weighing between 26 and 30 grams.

CALL: Include a quiet “zip” and a low, slurred “wee-ah”. A piercing “pweep” is used as contact at night during migration. Bill-snapping can be heard during aggressive encounters.

SONG: Includes several high-pitched notes, a complex series descending in pitch and sometimes prolonged into short trills described as “ch-ch zreeew zi-zi-zreeew”
It is given by the male from exposed perches on treetops, but also from lower bushes and in short song-flights. It can be heard at dawn and dusk and through the night.

Feeds primarily on various insects, also takes spiders and consumes seeds, fruits and berries depending on the season.

Breeds in undergrowth in dense stands of conifers, in mixed deciduous and fir forests with shrubby thickets, dwarf willows and alders, in wet areas and also in brushy areas along the tundra edge beyond the treeline.

Winters mostly on the lower levels of forests in tropical and subtropical regions; also at forest edges and in more open areas, in secondary growths with dense undergrowth, in old or abandoned plantations and damp thickets.

It breeds in Eastern Canada (Newfoundland and possibly N Quebec) and winters in Northern South America, East of Andes.

Both sexes build a deep, cup-shaped nest with fine grasses, leaves, sedges, thin strips of bark and some moss held together with mud in order to form a compact structure. It is lined with finer grasses.

The female lays 3 - 5 dull greenish-blue eggs with dark markings. The female incubates alone during 12 - 14 days. The chicks leave the nest 11 - 13 days after hatching, but they still depend on adults during at least 8 days, but probably more. 

Gray-cheeked Thrush Infographic


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