A Gray-cheeked Thrush Hides In Our Toronto Lilac Bush

A Gray-cheeked Thrush Hides In Our Toronto Lilac Bush

gray-cheeked thrush, toronto, ontario, canada

On spring, as I went about cleaning up the dishes after breakfast, out of the corner of my eye I saw a blur fly past the patio door and make a sharp veer to the left.  I was grateful that the bird hadn’t been fooled into flying into the window’s reflection.  I was keen to locate it in my backyard and thrilled when the bird turned out to be a Gray-cheeked Thrush. 

gray-cheeked thrush, toronto, ontario, canada

When first I espied the Gray-cheeked Thrush, I thought it was a fledgling American Robin, being of similar colouring.  The olive-brown plumage and whitish eye-ring are what made it possible to distinguish between those two species.

gray-cheeked thrush, toronto, ontario, canada

I was extremely excited to see a Gray-cheeked Thrush.  These birds are one of the most elusive and most difficult to identify among their genus.

gray-cheeked thrush, toronto, ontario, canada

As I watched and waited, the Gray-cheeked Thrush enjoyed the shade in amongst the lilac branches.  It did not seem to mind all the attention it was garnering from Bob and me.

The Gray-cheeked Thrush calmly sat hidden away from predators.

gray-cheeked thrush, toronto, ontario, canada

It was rather surprising to see a Gray-cheeked Thrush in Toronto.  It landed here as it migrated back to the northern regions of Canada for breeding after spending the winter in areas of Central and South America.  I was more than pleased to welcome it to my garden.

gray-cheeked thrush, toronto, ontario, canada

I fervently hoped that the Gray-cheeked Thrush would break into song.  They vocalize with a series of reedy notes that are reminiscent of a flute.

gray-cheeked thrush, toronto, ontario, canada

The Gray-cheeked Thrush remained in our backyard for close to 30 minutes before taking flight.  This was likely a male since they precede the females to their breeding grounds.  I wonder if I’ll ever be graced by its presence again.  I sure hope so.

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  • Your bird is actually a Gray-cheeked Thrush. The greyish flanks on the side of the bird plus the cold tones on the face indicate it as such. It is a more difficult bird to come across on spring migration than the Hermit Thrush, and especially in your yard. Consider yourselves fortunate!

    • Thanks, Kellie. I believe you are right. I had no idea. We have had Hermit Thrushes on our property over the years, so we thought this was another one, perhaps an immature bird or in spring plumage.

  • Hi folks,

    How wonderful to hear the song of the Hermit Thrush! Absolutley delightful!
    cheers, Janine

    • Hi Janine. Thanks for your comment. I love to hear the song of the Hermit Thrush when out in the woods. One time, Bob and I rode our bikes in past The Last House at Oxtongue, and, way back in along that road, we heard a Hermit Thrush where a lot of pine trees grow. Their flute-like melody resonates through the air and always transports me back to the first time we heard them at Lake St. Peter.

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