“Más vale un pájaro en la mano que cinco en vuelo.”

Más vale un pájaro en la mano que cinco en vuelo.

A bird in hand is worth more than five in flight.


My informant, who is bi-lingual, remembers hearing this proverb from her grandmother, born in 1915, and who moved to the United States from Cuba in 1976. (My informant’s mother came to the United States at the same time in 1976).

My informant said that her mother and grandmother are the ones who say these proverbs, she claims that her generation does not repeat them as much.

For this particular proverb, my informant could not recall the context in which she heard it,  just that she thought it was clever. It refers to the value of money today as opposed to possibilities of money in the future.

This proverb appears in many different regions, so therefore the uniqueness of this variant is the comparison of a bird in hand to five in flight. Other variants have the birds in a bush, not in flight. Therefore, the Cuban influence on this proverb is evident through the influence of Cuba’s aviary wildlife.


Annotation: This proverb, (worded as “a bird in hand is worth a thousand flying”) and its comparison to a western variant are mentioned in the article, “Capital Financing, An Old Approach Reapplied” by Ronald W. Chapman Public Productivity Review, Vol. 7, No. 4. (Dec., 1983), pp. 378-387.