Siting and Sighting pet peeve

Greg Toffic greg.toffic at
Tue Mar 5 09:05:06 PST 2002

Thank you for citing the proper use of "siting" and "sighting".
Greg Toffic

>>> "Scott Ray" <scray at> 03/05/02 08:55AM >>>

First, allow this birder admit that he is not the perfect speller or word
user. Misspelling Samish as Sammish on Sunday on Tweeters was my latest
faux pas. :)

However, it might be useful if we, as birders, refreshed our memories on the
proper use of the words "siting" and "sighting." Used incorrectly, birders
risk embarrassing themselves, at best, and admitting to a crime, at worst!

This subject has probably been brought up on Tweeters before. So please
forgive me if it has. It seems to be a birding issue appropriate for this
forum since a large percentage of posts here use some form of these two

"Siting" has nothing to do with seeing anything, a bird or otherwise.
"Siting" is used as a verb by builders and others who place structures on a
site. For example, "The planned siting of the new power plant on Samish
Island was overturned by the supreme court." There is different word for
seeing a bird. That word is, "sighting".

"Sight" is the verb, to get a view of, or to catch a sight of, as in, "This
is the first sighting of a Painted Bunting in Washington State." Or, "After
several hours of searching, the birders finally sighted the Painted Bunting
again." "Sight" can also be the noun for the object seen, as in, "The
colorful Painted Bunting was quite a sight." One can also sight through
one's binoculars or spotting scope.

However, birders do have a use for the word, "site," if used carefully. The
noun for the place or piece of ground on which a bird was sighted is "site".
On the other hand, saying something like, "The birder was thrilled at his
siting of the Painted Bunting," means that he planted the bird, a real
birding no no! I am unable to think of a situation in which birders would
properly use the word "siting" in relation to seeing a bird.

The two words can be somewhat related, but definitely do not have the same
meaning and must be used carefully!


Scott Ray
scray at

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