A bird in a hand

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Meaning: Having something guaranteed is better than having a chance to get something more.

Original quote: Plus valet in manibus avis unica quam dupla silvis (Latin)

Earliest attestation: Manuscript O.2.45 in Trinity College, Cambridge (13th century)

While some say this is a falconry metaphor, that seems unlikely and contrary to its simple meaning. This is simply a common sense metaphor about how sure things are better than things relying on unnecessary risks.

If you are hunting for birds, and you catch one, it is better to have the one than to have not caught the one and to just see two birds in a bush near you. If you have one bird, you are guaranteed to have something to eat, while if you only see two birds in a bush, you might catch both and get more food, but there is a large chance that both of them will get away from you and that you will go hungry.