The Gray-cheeked Thrush is a medium-sized songbird, measuring 6.75 to 7.5 inches in length and weighing 0.6 to 0.8 ounces. It has a brownish-gray upper body, gray cheeks and nape, and a buffy white underbody with dark spots. Its wingspan ranges from 11.5 to 12.5 inches, with brownish-gray wings and tail feathers that are slightly reddish-brown.
The Gray-cheeked Thrush can be distinguished from other thrushes by its gray cheeks and faint, buffy eyering. It has a subtle appearance and can be easily overlooked in the field. However, its unique vocalizations, which consist of a soft, mellow whistle and a long, high-pitched trill, make it easier to identify.
The Gray-cheeked Thrush is a long-distance migrant, breeding in the boreal forests of Canada and Alaska, and wintering in South America. During migration, it can be found in a variety of habitats, including woodlands, scrublands, and gardens. It is a relatively late migrant, with most individuals passing through North America in late May or early June and returning to their breeding grounds in August or September.
Although the Gray-cheeked Thrush is not considered threatened or endangered, its populations are declining due to habitat loss and fragmentation, particularly in its boreal breeding range. It is also susceptible to collisions with buildings and other man-made structures during migration. Conservation efforts are focused on protecting its breeding and wintering habitats, reducing collisions with buildings, and promoting bird-friendly development practices.