Gray-cheeked Thrush
(Catharus minimus)


Picture of bird
© Glen Tepke (
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The Gray-cheeked Thrush is a little-known breeder of the eastern boreal, taiga and adjacent tundra region, with a distribution in Canada that reaches from the Yukon to Newfoundland and Labrador. The Gray-cheeked Thrush formerly included a Bicknell's subspecies; in 1995, the Bicknell's Thrush was recognized as a distinct species. Populations are poorly monitored but limited, long-term Breeding Bird Survey data suggest that the population has experienced a large decrease since 1970. The Gray-cheeked Thrush minimus subspecies, which is only found in Newfoundland and southeastern Labrador (FitzGerald et al. 2017), is currently undergoing assessment by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseLowBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada5,000,000 - 50,000,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between mid-May and early June and ends in mid-July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

Habitat changes have likely been more significant on the wintering grounds in northern South America than on the breeding grounds, due to greater overlap with human activities (Lowther et al. 2001). However, Gray-cheeked Thrush often use mature forest habitat on both their breeding and wintering ranges, and there is some concern over the potential loss of this habitat as a result of industrial forestry on the breeding grounds (Dalley et al. 2005). Declines in the C. m. minimus subspecies are thought to relate to winter habitat loss and the introduction of red squirrels to parts of its range (Whitaker et al. 2015, FitzGerald et al. 2017).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Arctic Plains and MountainsArctic Plains and Mountains, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Other
Boreal Softwood ShieldBoreal Softwood Shield, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Other
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Atlantic, NL -- Other
Taiga Shield and Hudson PlainsTaiga Shield and Hudson Plains, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other