Pollinator behaviour has profound effects on plant mating. Pollinators are predicted to minimise energetic costs during foraging bouts by moving between nearby flowers. However, a review of plant mating system studies reveals a mismatch between behavioural predictions and pollen-mediated gene dispersal in bird-pollinated plants. Paternal diversity of these plants is twice that of plants pollinated solely by insects. Comparison with the behaviour of other pollinator groups suggests that birds promote pollen dispersal through a combination of high mobility, limited grooming, and intra- and interspecies aggression. Future opportunities to test these predictions include seed paternity assignment following pollinator exclusion experiments, single pollen grain genotyping, new tracking technologies for small pollinators, and motion-triggered cameras and ethological experimentation for quantifying pollinator behaviour.