Thiessen polygons are often used to model territory characteristics. However, information about the quality of Thiessen polygon-based estimates is currently lacking. We used published data to investigate the match between Thiessen polygons and mapped bird territories regarding territory size, shape and neighbourhood. Although territory sizes and the number of neighbours were strongly correlated between these two methods, both parameters were overestimated by the Thiessen polygons. Therefore, caution is required when Thiessen polygons are used as a model for absolute values and when the assumptions of Thiessen polygons, such as formation of discrete territories and a contiguous study area, are not met.