Skip to Content

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Although these birds are named after their gray cheeks, their most noticeable trait is their speckled throat and breast.

Breeding in remote tundra and taiga of central Canada and Alaska, the Gray-cheeked Thrush is poorly studied. Gray-cheeked Thrushes migrate at night, and typically move about 200 miles per night, with several days of rest in between movements.

The breeding range of the Gray-cheeked Thrush does not overlap with that of the Brown-headed Cowbird, so nest parasitism is not a problem for this species. Short, arctic summers allow time for just one nest each season.



Description of the Gray-cheeked Thrush


The Gray-cheeked Thrush has olive-brownish upperparts, head, and wings, with a buffy breast spotted with black and a pale belly.  Length: 7 in.  Wingspan: 13 in.

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Photograph © Greg Lavaty.


Sexes similar.

Seasonal change in appearance



Juveniles have buffy-spotted upperparts and grayish underparts.


Gray-cheeked Thrushes inhabit boreal forest, scrubby tundra, and in migration a variety of woodlands.

Gray-cheeked Thrush

Photograph © Greg Lavaty.


Gray-cheeked Thrushes eat insects and berries.


Gray-cheeked Thrushes forage on the ground among leaf litter, as well as in trees or shrubs to pick berries.


Gray-cheeked Thrushes breed from Alaska eastward across central Canada. They winter in South America. The population is not well monitored but may be stable.


More information:

Bent Life History

Visit the Bent Life History for extensive additional information on the Gray-cheeked Thrush.

Wing Shape

The shape of a bird’s wing is often an indication of its habits and behavior. Fast flying birds have long, pointed wings. Soaring birds have long, broad wings. Different songbirds will have a slightly different wing shape. Some species look so much alike (Empidonax flycatchers) that scientists sometimes use the length of specific feathers to confirm a species’ identification.

Wing images from the University of Puget Sound, Slater Museum of Natural History

Fun Facts

Gray-cheeked Thrushes are rather reclusive, and less often seen than Swainson’s Thrushes.

Gray-cheeked Thrushes migrate at night, and make one of the longest migrations of North American passerines.


The song is a thin, nasal series of notes.


Similar Species

  • Swainson’s Thrushes
    Swainson’s Thrushes have buffy spectacles and Hermit Thrushes have a reddish tail. 


The Gray-cheeked Thrush’s nest is a cup of twigs, leaves, and grass, sometimes held together with mud, and lined with finer materials. It is often placed on the ground or very low in trees or shrubs.

Number: Usually lay 4 eggs.
Color: Pale blue with darker markings.

Incubation and fledging:
The young hatch at about 12-14 days and fledge at about 11-13 days, though remaining dependent on the adults for some time.


Bent Life History of the Gray-cheeked Thrush

Published by the Smithsonian Institution between the 1920s and the 1950s, the Bent life history series of monographs provide an often colorful description of the birds of North America. Arthur Cleveland Bent was the lead author for the series. The Bent series is a great resource and often includes quotes from early American Ornithologists, including Audubon, Townsend, Wilson, Sutton and many others.

Bent Life History for the Gray-cheeked Thrush – the common name and sub-species reflect the nomenclature in use at the time the description was written.



The gray-cheeked thrush spends the summer farther north than any of our eastern thrushes, up to the tree limit and even beyond that point nearly or quite to the Arctic coast of the far northwest. Dr. E. W. Nelson (1883) describes its summer haunts in northern Alaska, as follows:

In middle latitudes where our acquaintance is made with this bird we associate it with damp woodlands and sheltered glens, and it would seem almost incongruous to one familiar with it in such surroundings to look for it as an inhabitant of the barren stretches of arctic lands where for many miles not a tree raises its shaft

Such is its northern home, however, and throughout the entire arctic region north of Hudson’s Bay to Bering Strait and across into Kamtchatka the bird is found in a greater portion of this range as an extremely abundant species. Wherever clumps of dwarf willows or alders have gained a foothold along the sterile slopes and hillsides in the north, a pair or more of these wanderers may be looked for. Along the entire Bering Sea coast of Alaska, and north around the shores of Kotzebue Sound, it is numerous among the many alder bushes found on these shores.

It was formerly supposed to be only a straggler across the Strait into northeastern Siberia, but, according to Thayer and Bangs (1914), it “is one of the American species that have extended their breeding range across Bering Strait, and it now breeds west at least to the Kolyma River region.”

Dr. Joseph Grinnell (1900) says that “in the Kowak Valley it was to be heard from every willow bed and tract of spruces.” From there eastward, along the northern fringe of stunted spruces, willows, and alders, the range extends to the delta of the Mackenzie, the Anderson River region, northern Labrador, and even to parts of Newfoundland.

Spring: The gray-cheeked thrush is the champion migrant among our small thrushes, making the longest migration and, in some parts of its journey, the most rapid advance. Frederick C. Lincoln (1939) says: “An excellent example of rapid migration is that of the Graycheeked Thrush. This bird winters in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela and British Guiana and does not start its northward journey until many other species are well on their way. It does not appear in the United States until the last of April: April 25 near the mouth of the Mississippi and April 30 in northern Florida. A month later, or by the last week in May, it is to be seen in northwestern Alaska, the 4,000-mile trip from Louisiana having been made at an average speed of 130 miles a day.” By reference to his map, it appears that the progress is much more rapid in the western part of the route, especially on the latter half of the journey, than it is up the Atlantic Coast States; by May 20 it has reached New England, having covered but little over 100 of latitude; while, during the same time, it has advanced over 300 of latitude, well beyond the 600 latitude in Mackenzie; and, during the next five days, it has advanced nearly 10~ more to the northern limit of its range in Alaska. These dates and distances are probably only approximate averages.

During the spring migration the gray-cheeked thrush spreads out over all of the eastern United States, from the Atlantic coast to the Mississippi Valley, and only sparingly a little farther west. Dr. Nelson (1883) writes of the migration:

It passes by the groves and farms of the Northern States just as the buds are swelling and the warm, misty rains ~pring are quickening into life the sleeping seeds and rootlets; filled with buoyant exultation it pauses now and then to pour forth those strange but pleasing cadences which once heard in their full sweetness will never be forgotten. But it has no time to tarry, and ere long it is already far on its way to the north. The strange, wild song which arose but a short time since in pleasant woodland spots and quiet nooks in southern groves is now heard by wandering Indians who seek their summer fishing-grounds by the banks of northern streams. Yet a little later and it troops in abundance near to the shores of the Arctic, where the Mackenzie and other rivers pour their spring floods into the icy sea. Down the Yukon these birds pass, using the densely bush-grown bank of the river as their highway, raising now and then their song which finds here fittest surroundings. Reaching the mouth of the Yukon, many wander along the coast of Bering Sea to the north, and some are said to cross the straits.

On migration gray-cheeked thrushes may be seen almost anywhere that they can find sufficient cover, in woodlands, or along the edges, in thickets along streams, in roadside shrubbery, in thick growths of young evergreens, and even in village yards or gardens or in city parks. They come along with the host of later migrants and are often in company with olivebacks, or in the east with the smaller Bicknell’s; they can hardly be distinguished from the latter in life and must be seen under favorable circumstances t.o tell them from olivebacks. In the great wave of migrating birds that swept through the narrow timber belt along Maple Creek, southwestern Saskatchewan, on June 8,1906, thrushes were very numerous. Only two were collected, one of which proved to be aliciae and the other a small specimen of a female bicknelli identified by my companion, Dr. Louis B. Bishop.

Lucien M. Turner, in his unpublished Labrador notes, says: “At the head of Hamilton Inlet, this thrush occurs in abundance, arriving about the 25th of May and remaining until the middle of September, breeding there plentifully even in the undergrowth surrounding the houses.~~ Nesting: Breeding in a region where trees are stunted or replaced by low bushes, the gray-checked thrush builds its nest not far from the ground or even on it among low-growing shoots. A nest found by Johan Koren at Nijni Kolymsk, in northeastern Siberia, on June 15, 1912, was “placed on the ground among the stems of young alders,” according to Thayer and Bangs (1914); it contained five fresh eggs. Dr. Grinnell (1900) says that, in the Kotzebue Sound region of northern Alaska, “the nests of this species were quite variously situated, according to environment. In willow and alder beds I found them within a foot of the ground built on the slanting or horizontal trunks. While in the spruce woods they were found as high as twenty feet, though commonly about six feet above the ground. A typical nest 15 of fine shriveled grass blades, incorporated when damp, and mixed with a small amount of mud. The lining is of fine dry grasses. When this structure dries it is remarkably compact and firm, in fact almost indestructible by the elements, for the woods were full of old nests some of which must have survived many seasons.”

Dr. Brewer (Baird, Brewer, and Ridgway, 1874) gives a very good description of the nests, as follows: “The nests measure about 4 inches in diameter and 2% in height. The cavity is 2 inches deep, and its diameter 2Y~ inches. They are usually compact for the nest of a thrush, and are composed chiefly of an elaborate interweaving of fine sedges, leaves, stems of the more delicate Equisetaceae, dry grasses, strips of fine bark, and decayed leaves, the whole intermingled with the panicled infiorescence of grasses. There is little or no lining other than these materials * * *~ The Hypnum mosses, so marked a feature in the nests of T. swainsoni, as also in those of T. wstulatus, are wholly wanting in those of T. aliciae.”

Dr. Nelson (1887), however, found a nest at St. Michael that was “composed mainly of these mosses mixed with a small amount of coarse grass.”

There is a set of eggs in my collection, taken by Rev. W. W. Perrett at Makkovik, Labrador, on June 27, 1899, that came from a nest made of small twigs, moss, and dry grass, lined with fine grass and a few dry leaves and rootlets; the nest was placed about 3 feet from the ground in a small spruce. Another nest in his collection was similarly constructed but placed on the ground under a small juniper. Another set in my collection was taken by J. R. Whitaker at Grand Lake, Newfoundland, on June 26, 1919; the nest was 18 inches from the ground on a prostrate tree. Dr. George J. Wallace (1939) also says that this thrush builds “a mossy nest.” Herbert Brandt (1943) found the gray-cheeked thrush breeding in the Askinuk Mountains, near Hooper Bay, Alaska, “in the alder growth below an altitude of 500 feet,” and says that “the outside of some nests is so profusely decorated with moss and lichens as to cover completely the grassy wall.” The nests were in upright crotches, entirely without concealment, from 2 to 4.50 feet above the ground.

Eggs: The gray-cheeked thrush lays ordinarily four eggs, sometimes only three and frequently five; Dr. Wallace (1939) says “from four to six.”

The eggs are usually ovate in shape, but some are more elongated and some more rounded. They have very little or no gloss. The ground color is a light, greenish blue, from “Nile blue” to “pale Nile blue” or even paler. They are usually more sparingly and more faintly marked than the eggs of the olive-backed thrush, but with similar shades of brown, “hazel” to “cinnamon” or paler. Some eggs have fairly large blotches about the larger end, and some are uniformly and evenly sprinkled with minute dots. In some eggs the markings are so small and faint that the egg appears almost immaculate. The measurements of 50 eggs in the United States National Museum average 23.0 by 17.0 millimeters; the eggs showing the four extremes measure 24.9 by 16.0, 23.9 by 19.8, 20.6 by 16.8, and 22.4 by 15.8 millimeters.

Plumages: The natal down of the gray-cheeked t.hrush does not seem to have been described. Dr. Dwight (1900) describes the juvenal plumage of an Alaskan specimen, as follows: “Above, greenish olive-brown, wings and tail darker, the pileum, back, wing coverts (except primary and greater) and rump with huffy white linear shaft streaks. Below, white, very faintly tinged with pale buff on the breast and sides, the breast and throat spotted with black, tending to barring on forepart of abdomen and flanks. Sides of head pale buff, black spotted; submalar streaks black; distinct orbital ring rich buff. * * * This dress is grayer and with less buff than the corresponding plumage of T. u. swainson ii.”

The first winter plumage is acquired by a partial postjuvenal molt, which involves the body plumage and the lesser wing coverts, but not the greater wing coverts, or the rest of the wings, or the tail. Dr. Dwight (1900) describes this plumage as “above, similar to corresponding plumage of T. ii. swainsonii, the olive-brown usually darker with less yellowish tinge, especially on the head. Below, with no buff except a faint wash on the jugulum; the sides of the head and breast are therefore much grayer and the orbital ring distinctly white. The buffy edgings or terminal spots of the retained juvenal wing coverts are usually distinctive of the first winter dress.” The postjuvenal molt of young birds and the postnuptial complete molt of adults are both, apparently, accomplished in August before migration. There is evidently no molt in spring, but wear and fading produce a slightly grayer effect. The sexes are alike in all plumages.

Dr. Wallace (1939) writes: “Breeding birds of the Newfoundland type vary from Brownish Olive, which is the migration color of aliciae, to Olive-Brown or Sepia. Thus they differ from summer specimens of the continental form by the almost complete lack of grayish suffusion in the dorsal plumage, the gray being replaced by brownish hues. Below, they are similar to the northern gray-cheeks, but with more huffy appearance on the throat and breast.”

Food: Professor Beal (1915b) examined the stomachs of ill gray-cheeked and Bicknell’s thrushes, combining the two subspecies. The analysis showed 74.86 percent of animal matter and 25.14 percent of vegetable food. Beetles were the largest item in the former, 33.32 percent; but only 2.83 percent were the useful Carabidae; the remainder belonged to harmful families, such as the Scarabaeidae, Elateridae, and the weevils. Ant.s amounted to 16.34 percent, and other Hymenoptera, as wasps and bees, were eaten to the extent of 5.60 percent; no honey bees were found. Caterpillars were third in importance, 8.81 percent. Grasshoppers were not a favorite food, amounting only to 1.72 percent. Other insects, including the remains of a seventeen-year locust in one stomach, amounted to 2.89 percent, spiders 5.77 percent, and a few other animals, such as crawfishes, sowbugs, and angleworms, to 0.41 percent.

Among the vegetable food, a few seeds of blackberries or raspberries were found, but they may have come from wild plants and amounted to only 0.15 percent. “Wild fruits of 18 different species (23.98 percent) make up nearly one-fourth of the whole food.” The only fruits found in more than two stomachs were: Wild black cherries m 5, wild grapes in 5, flowering dogwood in 5, and elderberries in 3 stomachs.

Francis Zirrer, of Hayward, Wis., sends me the following note: “In spring this bird, and many others, subsist largely on larvae of various Diptera, inhabiting the rich woodland soil in such masses, that from the bottom of a small puddle of snow water a few yards square a good handful might be obtained, drowned and dead. During the fall migration the bird feeds often on the hairy caterpillars (Arctiidae) which at that time crawl everywhere. However, it does take considerable time and much pounding before the caterpillar is disposed of. But most of the fall feeding is done on the berries of Aralia racemosa. As shy as this thrush usually is, it will come directly under the windows of a lonely woodland cabin, if the plant grows there and the fruit is plentiful, which is usually the case, as this plant with its later period of blooming does not, as a rule, suffer from late frosts. This is the best opportunity for the dweller to watch this and the next thrush at the closest possible range through the window pane, often only 2 or 3 feet away. And, since the ripening of these berries on the truly enormous clusters proceeds slowly and over a period of several weeks, the birds will stay as long as there are any berries left, unless the weather turns exceptionally cold and nasty.”

Behavior: Like other thrushes of this group, the gray-cheeked is extremely shy, both on migrations and on its breeding grounds. We may hear it singing on the top of some bush or small tree, but, as we approach, it dashes down into the underbrush and disappears. It is even more shy than the oliveback. It is most often seen on the ground during migrations, hopping about in a characteristic thrushlike attitude, erect on its long legs and searching for food, most of which is found on the ground among the fallen leaves. It is seldom seen in the high treetops, as the oliveback so often is.

Wendell Taber writes to me that on May 17, 1942, in a cemetery at Nahant, Mass., “one of these birds seemed to have a definite preference for the top of a wooden fence. Although a number of us drove him away, he kept returning. Later, after we had walked through the cemetery and returned, the bird was again on top. A most peculiar action was the position of the bird; wings were extended from the body with primaries turned down and apparently touching the fence: in short a three-point landing. The bird did not appear to be wet or show any difficulty in flying.”

Dr. Dayton Stoner (1932) “watched one of these birds for some time as it took its morning bath in one of the pools of shallow water in a bog. The ablutions were continued for several minutes and were accompanied by a great deal of fluttering and splashing of water. Then followed a most careful and meticulous preening and oiling of the contour feathers; particular attention being given the tail and large wing feathers, the vanes of which were run carefully through the mandibles so that the disengaged hooklets: if any: would be re-engaged. The entire procedure lasted between ten and fifteen minutes.”

A rather peculiar action was noted by Cyril G. ilarrold on Nunivak Island, Alaska, mentioned by H. S. Swarth (1934): “These birds have a habit of making for the boulder-strewn shore when alarmed and hiding under the large rocks, where it is very difficult to locate them.~~ Mr. Turner (MS.) writes: “I have observed this species on both the Pacific and the Atlantic Arctic regions, and cannot consider it as a shy bird, that is, difficult to approach. It is of a retiring nature, and in certain positions very apt to be overlooked, being oftener seen as it flits from one thicket to another than otherwise.”

Voice: The song of the gray-cheeked thrush is evidently inferior to those of the hermit and wood thrushes, and some tbink that tbe veery and even the oliveback are superior vocalists. This is largely due to the fact that the graycheek does not sing its best song while on migration, though it is often heard. Few of us have been privileged to hear it on its northern breeding grounds, where it is heard at its best and where the full, rich, sweet song is doubly appreciated in the barren surroundings of its summer home. Here it mounts some low tree or bush and pours out a most delightful melody. It ceases to sing, however, when the care of young nestlings absorbs its attention. Eugene P. Bicknell (1884) writes:

As a result of my experience with these birds, I have little hesitation in characterizing the song of the Oray-cheeked Thrush as weaker than that of the Olivebacked, entirely dissimilar in tone, and with a somewhat different disposition of the notes. Instead of musically outhursting, it is singularly subdued, and has a far-away and rather ventriloquisi sound. It seems more the expression of some distant emotion revived in memory than of a suddenly felt present emotion which the song of the Olive-hacked Thrush suggests. * * * The song of the Gray-cheeked Thrush commences low and reaches its loudest, and I think its highest, part a little beyond half its continuanee. It is throughout much fainter and of less forcible delivery than the song of the Olive-backed species.

John A. Gillespie (1927) gives a very good description of the song: “Briefly described, the song in question commenced with a slurring ‘wee-oh,’ strongly suggesting the beginning of a common variation of the White-eyed Vireo’s song. This was followed by two, and sometimes three, high pitched, staccato notes resembling ‘chee-chee,’ intermingled with almost inaudible cymbal-like tones. From notes taken at the time, the whole song might be represented as ‘Wee-oh, chee-chee-wee-oh, wee-oh,’ the latter half suggesting the Goldfinch in tone and execution.”

To A. Dawes DuBois (MS.), the song of a bird that he beard in Illinois sounded like “IVe-tichi-wheAe, whitchd-ii. The we, the first syllable of the tichi and most of the whe~e are of approximately the same pitch, but the second syllable of the tichi is lower. The last portion of the whde is tremulous and slurs downward, after which the whitche~-u begins on the lower note, but is slurred quickly upward, and then gradually downward on the tremulous chd-u ending.”

The gray-cheeked thrush has a harsh scolding note and some short call notes like what, chuck, pheu, or Id-a., which probably express different emotions.

Lucien M. Turner (IvIS.) has this to say about the midnight song of the gray-cheeked thrush on its breeding grounds: “At the mouth of Whale River, Ungava, I was lying in my sleeping bag, preparing for a few hours’ rest on the open ground, with naught but sky above me. The time was but a few minutes after midnight, and it was so still that the only sounds to be heard were the contending currents of the river, but a few feet distant, and the distress cries of a pair of semipalmated plovers whose nest was nearby. A drowsiness soon possessed me, but hearing a strange, clear song of a bird, which made the stillness tinkle with its music, I could not sleep so long as it continued. The next morning, I saw a pair of Alice’s thrushes and knew they had sung their midnight song to the rising sun, for at this date, June 27, there is no darkness; the sun passes below the horizon, but leaves the daylight behind.”

Field marks: As its name implies, the best field mark is the gray cheeks. At short range and in good light, this character will distinguish this thrush from the oliveback, whose cheeks and eye ring are conspicuously huffy, though this character is not so well marked in the young bird in the fall. The plain, olive-brown back will distinguish this species from the wood thrush, veory, or hermit, all of which show some rufous on part or all of the upperparts. From Bicknell’s thrush the gray-cheeked can be distinguished only by size, a poor field mark.

Enemies: AIl thrushes have plenty of enemies among the numerous predators, but few have the kind that persecute the gray-cheeked thrush on its breeding grounds. Dr. Nelson (1887) writes: “As soon as the breeding season is over they become less retiring and frequent the vicinity of villages and more open spots, where many are killed by the native boys, armed with their bows and arrows. Their skins are removed and hung in rows or bunches to dry in the smoky huts and are preserved as trophies of the young hunters’ prowess. In the winter festivals, when the older hunters bring out the trophies of their skill, the boys proudly display the skins of these thrushes and hang them alongside.”

Dr. Max Minor Feet (1908) mentions one that was killed at Isle Royale, Mich., by flying against a lighted window at night during a storm.

Only one louse, Myrsidea incerta (Kellogg), is reported by Harold S. Peters (1936) as an external parasite of this thrush.

Fall: Gray-cheeked thrushes leave their northernmost breeding grounds by the last of August, or early in September, and travel southward over much the same routes that they traversed in spring, which covers practically all of Canada and the United States east of the Rocky Mountains. Dr. Wallace (1939) remarks that “apparently not even the Alaskan and Siberian inhabitants migrate along the Pacific coast. Habit is deeply intrenched in such migratory species; otherwise the Siberian representatives might better winter in southern Asia than to retrace their flight across the intercontinental peninsula, and migrate the whole length of North America to winter in South America.”

Ludlow Griscom (1932) records it as “migrating along the outer islands of the east coast of Central America, very rare or casual on the mainland (4 records only).” But Dr. Wallace (1939) says: “Of the ten or more Central American records for this form only three appear to be from these outer islands, and two of these are of doubtful identity. Apparently they migrate over all the available routes to South America, by way of the West Indian chain ot islands, along the Florida peninsula and across Cuba, by the outer islands along the eastern Central American coast, and particularly over Central America as a whole.”

We seldom think of thrushes as migrating in flocks, but, at Isle Royale, Mich., Dr. Feet (1908) found these thrushes very abundant in September: “Large flocks were seen every day throughout the remainder of our stay [Sept. 12 to 22], the border of clearings and the roadways being the places where they were the most abundant.”

They pass through Massachusetts in September and October, when they frequent mainly the berry-bearing thickets, feeding on the fruit of cornels and the berries of the deadly nightshade, barberry, spicebush, woodhine, wild grapes, the seeds of poison-ivy, etc. But we often see them in the shrubbery along the roadsides and even in our yards and gardens, feeding among the fallen leaves.

Winter: The gray-cheeked thrush spends the winter in northern South America, mainly in Colombia and Venezuela, but also in British Guiana, Ecuador, and Peru. We do not know much about its winter haunts and habits. Dr. Wallace (1939) says that “they reach their winter quarters by late October, but apparently are not found in the valleys much later than that, seeming to move up into the mountains.”

Range: Northeastern Asia and North America, to northwestern South America.

Breeding range: The gray-cheeked thrush breeds north to northeastern Siberia (Nijni Kolymsk and Pitalkaj); northern Alaska (Cape Blossom and the Kobuk River, rarely to Point Barrow); northern Yukon (Old Crow River and Lapierre House); northern Mackenzie (Akiavik, Franklin Bay, MacTavish Bay on Great Bear Lake, and Artillery Lake); northern Manitoba (Churchill); northern Quebec (Chimo); and northern Labrador (Nain). East to Labrador (Nain, Davis Inlet, and Cape Charles); Newfoundland (St. Anthony, Fogo Island, and St. John’s); Miquelon and St. Pierre Islands, and Nova Scotia (Seal Island). South to Nova Scotia (Seal Island), and the mountains of northeastern United States: Maine (Mount Katahdin and Mount Abraham); New Hampshire (White Mountains and Moosilauke); Massachusetts (Mount Greylock); and New York (Adirondack and Catskill Mountains); southeastern Quebec (Gasp6 County and Romaine); Hudson Bay region (Great Whale River, Quebec, and York Factory, Manitoba); southern Mackenzie (Hill Island Lake), northern British Columbia (Fort Nelson River and Atlin); southern Yukon (Lake Marsh); southern Alaska (Copper River, Kodiak Island, Nushagak, and Hooper Bay); and northeastern Siberia (Cape Tschukotsk). West to northeastern Siberia (Cape Tschukotsk and the tributaries of the Kolyma River).

The breeding range as outlined includes the entire species of which two subspecies or geographic races are recognized. The typical race, the gray-cheeked thrush (H. m. minima), is the northern race breeding from Siberia across northern Canada, Labrador, and in Newfoundland; Bicknell’s thrush (H. m. bicknelli) breeds in Gasp6 County, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and the mountains of northeastern United States.

Winter range: In winter Bicknell’s thrush has been found only on the island of Hispaniola (Morne Malanga, Haiti; and Puerto Plata, Sonchez, Aguacate, and San Domingo, Dominican Republic).

The gray-cheeked thrush continues to South America where it occurs from the Santa Marta region of Colombia east through the Orinoco Valley of Venezuela (M~rida, Barinas, Caicara, and the Mount Auyan-tepic region) to British Guiana (Kamakusa, the Kamarang River, and Bartica). It appears to winter at least casually in the Cauca Valley of Colombia (Puerto Valdivia); on the east slope of the Andes in Ecuador (Hacienda Machay in the province of Ambato and the R~o Suno); and in eastern Peru (Chamicuras).

Migration: The gray-cheeked thrush has an interesting migration route. The records indicate that the birds breeding in Siberia migrate through the Mississippi Valley of the United States. West of the hundredth meridian the species is known only by a few (possibly casual) records in eastern Wyoming and Montana, and there are very few records from southern Alberta, and none from British Columbia except north of the Peace River. It is apparently unknown in Mexico except in the islands off the coast of Yucatan, and there is one specimen from Guatemala; and several records for Cuba, Costa Rica, and Panama.

As many of the dates of migration are based on sight records, no attempt has been made to separate the races.

Some late dates of spring departure are: Colombia: Santa Marta, May 3. Guatemala : Uaxact~in, April 28. Mexico : Cozumel Island, April 30. Bahamas: Cay Sal, May 19. Florida: Tortugas, May 22. North Carolina: Asheville, May 21. District of Columbia: Washington, June 3. Texas: Cove, May 21. Louisiana: Shreveport, May 16. Missouri: St. Louis, June 4.

Some early dates of spring arrival are: Florida: Pensacola, April 21. South Carolina : Aiken, April 24. Virginia: Lynchburg, May 5. District of Columbia: Washington, May 6. Pennsylvania: Harrisburg, May 1. New York: Rochester, May 2. Massachusetts: Boston, May 14. New Hampshire: Hanover, May 17. Maine: Dover-Foxcroft, May 1. Quebec: Quebec, May 21. Louisiana: Baton Rouge, April 22. Mississippi: Biloxi, April 21. Tennessee: Memphis, April 23. Indiana: Indianapolis, April 26. Michigan: Ann Arbor, April 25. Ontario: Hamilton, April 27. Missouri: St. Louis, April 30. Wisconsin: Racine, May 2. Texas: Houston, April 23. Nebraska: Red Cloud, April 29. North Dakota: Fargo, May 4. Manitoba: Aweme, May 5; Churchill, June 6. Alberta: Edmonton, May 13. British Columbia: Fort St. John, May 13. Alaska: Kobuk River, near the mouth, May 24 Bering Sea: St. Lawrence Island, May 26. Siberia: Nijni Kolymsk, June 8.

Some late dates of fall departure are: Bering Sea: St. Paul Island, September 9. Alaska: Nome, September 8. British Columbia: Atlin, September 1. Alberta: Athabaska Landing, September 12. Manitoba: Churchill, September 6. North Dakota: Fargo, October 4. Minnesota: Minneapolis, October 1. Iowa: Iowa City, October 16. Michigan: Ann Arbor, October 7. Ontario : Point Pelee, October 9. Ohio: Columbus, October 6. Mississippi: Ariel, October 9. Texas: Cove, October 18. Quebec: Hatley, September 24. Maine: Phillips, September 20. Massachusetts: Harvard, October 5. New York: Astoria, October 23. Pennsylvania: Philadelphia, October 16. District of Columbia: Washington, October 24. North Carolina: Weaverville, October 28. Georgia: Athens, October 18. Alabama: Greensboro, October 20. Cuba: Habana, October 21. British Honduras: Toledo, November 13. Costa Rica : Tambor, November 2. Panama: Cocoplum, November 12.

Some early dates of fall arrival are: Minnesota: St. Paul, August 31. Illinois: Chicago, August 26. Louisiana: Thibodaux, September 21. North Carolina: Statesville, September 4. Georgia: near Atlanta, September 9. Florida: Princeton, September 19. Cuba: Habana, October 16. Costa Rica: Rio Sicsola, October 4.

Casual records: A specimen was collected at God thaab, Greenland, in June 1845; and another in south Greenland in August 1852, and one in postjuvenal plumage was collected on the south fork of Cave Creek, in the Cbiricahua Mountains in Arizona, on September 11, 1932.

Egg dates: Alaska: 17 records, June 6 to July 8; 9 records, ,June 15 to June 23, indicating the height of the season.

Labrador: 5 records, June 17 to June 28.

Manitoba: 26 records, June 11 to June 30; 13 records, ,June 19 to June 22.

New Hampshire: 5 records, June 17 to June 28.

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

Let others know your thoughts or ask an expert

Would you like to get new articles of birds (Once a month?)

No SPAM! We might only send you fresh updates once a month

Thank you for subscribing!

No thanks! I prefer to follow BirdZilla on Facebook