Café Crem

Art, Music and Words around The Coffee Table

“A Bird in the Hand is Worth Two in the Bush”

  It was an all girls weekend two years ago. Several of my friends and I shared the cost of renting a chalet at Mount Washington on Vancouver Island. This is a skiing community, about 3 hours north from Victoria, that rents out their chalets in the summer months. We were supposed to be learning about new knitting techniques but the weather was much too nice for staying indoors. We spent most of our mornings going on long hikes along the trails.img_2383.jpg

  This is a Steller’s Jay who decided he wanted some of my friend’s trail mix and eagerly gobbled up some nuts. There must have been about 10 or 12 of them that took turns swooping down from the safety of the trees to perch for a nanosecond and grab some nuts from her hand. They moved so fast it was very difficult to get a good photo! Finally, I decided to just keep focusing on her hand and that worked well.

   The quote was perfect for my photo! “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” is something you say to someone who is always looking for the better option. It’s like saying be happy with what you already have and don’t waste it by looking for something better.

   Great topic! I’m looking forward to reading quotes from different parts of the world. This should be really interesting.



February 1, 2008 - Posted by | animals, photography, Proverbs and Sayings


  1. Great entry, Bonny!
    It must have been a fantastic weekend with tour friends at this wonderful place. I have spent many many hours in the last 5 years at watching birds, and trying to identify them, in Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany and I never saw a Steller’s jay there! Such a beautiful blue and back bird…Great that you put the links to Wikipedia…

    Do you remember how the proverb is in German?

    “Besser ein Spatz in der Hand als eine Taube auf den Dach”
    (Better a sparrow in the hand than a pigeon on the roof)

    Comment by Miki | February 1, 2008

  2. Hey! Thanks for adding the translation, or more precisely finding the equivalent in German.

    Comment by Bonny | February 1, 2008

  3. What a great photo! That sounds like great fun, just trying to get the shot 🙂

    Comment by shelleymhouse | February 1, 2008

  4. For this saying there is a quite exact equivalent in Romanian: we say: Nu da vrabia din mana pe cioara de pe gard… Translation: Don’t give the sparrow in your hand for the crowe on the fence…

    Comment by iondanu | February 1, 2008

  5. It was fun, Shelley. You have to imagine these birds are super quick! The one in the photo looks like he’s posing, but before I finished taking the photo – he was gone! I was surprised that the photo turned out.

    Danu, thanks for the translation! It’s really interesting to see how many different countries have the same expression. Makes me wonder about contact routes and how people interacted and influenced each other.

    Comment by Bonny | February 1, 2008

  6. Yes, it is really interewting Bonnny, and this is why i chose the them. I wonder if it has to do only with interactions of people, or if it due to somehting we all have in common, deep insie, like the universal memory, ot however you may call it…

    In French the expression which perfectly suits is:
    “Moineau en main vaut mieux que perdrix qui vole”
    (A sparrow in the hand is better than a flying partridge)

    and in Spanish
    “Más vale pajaro en mano, que ciento volando”
    (better a bird in the hand than hundred flying)

    Well, the Spaniards always exaggerate a bit!

    Comment by Miki | February 1, 2008

  7. Great pic, Bonny! I wonder too about the derivations, and just how far back in time they originate…Perhaps this directly links to our hunting past, and the fact that “the bird in the hand” is indeed tonights dinner, and is worth far more than possible food, flying about in the wild, as yet uncaptured!

    Comment by kevmoore | February 4, 2008

  8. In my neck of the woods the Stellar’s Jay is the noisy one who scares all the little birds away and eats all the food in the feeder, making a big mess. But he is beautiful, it’s true.

    And as for the peacock on the roof. . . I definitely would rather have a little bird in the hand,since we’ve had the former, and peacocks make a collassal racket, a piercing sound to rattle your windows, and. . . they tear up the shingles! But I guess if I were hungry enough, I’d prefer to eat whatever bird was in my hand at the moment.

    Comment by Susan Cornelis | February 5, 2008

  9. Perhaps a topical one would be A bird in the primaries is worth more than a Bush in the white house?

    Comment by kevmoore | February 5, 2008

  10. we do have an expression like this in portuguese here in Brasil, it like this:

    “mais vale um pássaro na mão do que 2 voando”

    A bird in the hand worth more than two flying

    Comment by Ceres | October 18, 2008

  11. I teach English proverbs to my students and try and get them to match the two halves of common ones, with sometimes hilarious results and then get them to find the nearest in their own langauge and translate it. That is, if they can figure out what the English one actually means…some of them are more obscure than you’d imagine.
    Great photo!

    Comment by viv66 | January 5, 2009

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