Theory suggests that introduction effort (propagule size or number) should be a key determinant of establishment success for exotic species. Unfortunately, however, propagule pressure is not recorded for most introductions. Studies must therefore either use proxies whose efficacy must be largely assumed, or ignore effort altogether. The results of such studies will be flawed if effort is not distributed at random with respect to other characteristics that are predicted to influence success. We use global data for more than 600 introduction events for birds to show that introduction effort is both the strongest correlate of introduction success, and correlated with a large number of variables previously thought to influence success. Apart from effort, only habitat generalism relates to establishment success in birds.