In a range of systems, studies on mistletoe distribution on the host plant have documented a number of factors that affect their occurrence and spread (Aukema & Martinez del Rio 2002a, Bowie & Ward 2004, Overton 1996, Reid et al. 1995). These patterns can be determined by host specificity, environmental conditions, host plant characteristics (Martinez del Rio et al. 1995) and the movement patterns of dispersal agents (Aukema & Martinez del Rio 2002a, 2002b). In mistletoe plants, host choice can be considerably influenced by the advantages of interacting with relatively abundant hosts (Norton & Carpenter 1998, Norton & De Lange 1999). Besides the relative abundance of host species, characteristics such as branch size, age and height can have a strong effect on mistletoe attachment resulting in size-related mistletoe infection patterns (Overton 1994). Generally positive relationships between mistletoe infection and host size have been demonstrated worldwide (Donohue 1995, Martinez del Rio et al. 1996, Norton et al. 1997, Reid & Stafford Smith 2000) and they have been interpreted in terms of the preferences by dispersing birds to perch and feed in taller trees (Aukema & Martinez del Rio 2002a) and trees accumulating infections as they age (Overton 1994). Aukema & Martinez del Rio (2002a) reported more frequent perching in taller-than-average trees by the phainopepla (Phainopepla nitens), which is the principal disperser of the desert mistletoe Phoradendron californicum. Thus, visits by mistletoe-seed-dispersing birds, and therefore mistletoe seeds received, tend to increase with tree height (Aukema & Martinez del Rio 2002a). Using a simple metapopulation model, Overton (1994) predicted the frequency of parasitized trees to increase with host age. Therefore, assuming that size is a good proxy for age, large trees are likely to be more infected than smaller trees. Reid & Stafford Smith (2000), using experimentally disinfected trees, found that larger trees were disproportionately re-infected with mistletoes. This size–intensity relationship may be used to describe mistletoe infection patterns. However, several previous studies have shown size–intensity relationships to be weak (Aukema & Martinez del Rio 2002a, Donohue 1995, Overton 1994, Reid & Stafford Smith 2000). This indicates that other factors may be important in determining mistletoe infection intensity, including that already parasitized hosts of a specific height are more likely to receive seeds than non-parasitized hosts of the same height or dispersers are likely to be attracted to trees for reasons other than size (Aukema & Martinez del Rio 2002a).