What Kind of Bird is "Big Bird?"

I was just wondering if it was ever mentioned what kind of bird “Big Bird” on Sesame Stree is?

Also is “Big Bird” his name or his description?


He’s a *Big * bird. What other type could he be?

He’s a Grandavis sesamensis.

Ask Big Bird himself: he has said he’s a Golden Condor when he appeared on Mister Rogers Neighborhood. From the way he said it, I got the distinct impression that this was the answer he often gave. I’m sure that kids always ask it at personal appearances.

The prehistoric forerunner of Serinus canaria slept for millions of years deep in the Arctic ice. He was awakened by a clandestine American undersea nuclear weapon test in 1969. As Big Bird lives on fire and radiation the sheer power of the weapons test drastically increased his size from Tweety to tremendous. Awake and angry, Big Bird ran amok, destroying Tokyo with his nuclear firebreath and knowledge of the Latin alphabet. He was eventually stopped by international efforts; the biggest part was the Soviet loan of their Mammuthus primigenius (nicknamed, for unknown reasons, “Snuffy”) who had been discovered after a Soviet weapons test in far northern Siberia the previous year. Big Bird was eventually shrunk to his current size by putting him on a diet and agreed to repay his debt to the world by becoming part of a children’s TV show in the US. Snuffy claimed asylum in the US from the USSR and was put on the same show to keep an eye on Big Bird. The agreement has lasted until this day.

I always thought he was a canary.

A big canary.

Oh, and just to preempt the next question, Scooby is a great dane.

And, so is Gabriel Axel.

A muppet?

I always assumed he was the proverbial 600-pound canary.

As in, “What does a 600-pound canary say?”


He has turkey feathers, but he is no turkey.

My best guess, some sort of unholy, genetically-engineered abomination.

No, no…that’s Elmo…

I’ve heard Oscar call him a canary a few times…but of course it was tongue-in-cheek.

Oscar has also called him a turkey.

According to the Muppet Wiki, Big Bird’s species is often given as a canary, although, as RealityChuck pointed out, the bird himself once told Mr. Rogers he was a Golden Condor. The official Sesame Street website has no information regarding Big Bird’s species, but looking at some of the videos that are avaiable on the site, Big Bird himself states that he is an “eight-foot bird,” and also points out that he is not a giant or an aardvark. The Wiki also tells us that in an animated inset, Big Bird is shown not to be an ostrich. In the motion picture Follow That Bird, Big Bird was painted blue and performed in the Sleaze Brothers Circus as “The Blue Bird of Happiness.”

Big Bird is a he?!

Not only that, so’s the person who puppeteers him.


He’s also a six year old, last I knew. But I think they mean that as “6” in human development years, not as in an adult bird. (Are most birds fully grown by 6? I think so, but I’m not sure.) Anyhow, he’s young enough to be innocent and ask lots of questions, and old enough to know his alphabet and numbers.

Caroll Spinney (male) has done a fabulous job with Big Bird over the years, but his health has made it neccesary to apprentice new Big Bird puppeteers. One is Rick Lyon, who also did Avenue Q, and the other Matt Vogel, who’s tried really hard to get the voice right and just hasn’t, IMHO, mastered it.

Nope. That would be Barney.

Matt Vogel as Big Bird? I know nothing of the man, but that would be just perfect…
(If he changed his name to Max it would be even better.)

Oh, no! I hadn’t realized they’ve had new Big Bird puppeteers, not really having seen any new Sesame Street in probably a couple of decades, at least. Seeing the photos of him when I was googling for that link really reminded me that just as I’m getting older, so are all the people who were involved in the beloved things of my childhood. I think in a way, Jim Henson fooled me by dying while still relatively young…he was the most visible of the Sesame Street crowd and having him out of the picture before he became a white-haired old coot kind of froze the whole bunch of them in my mind at kind of “vaguely 50ish”.

I guess until something pulls me up short, like those photos did, my mind just sort of keeps famous people that I don’t actually hear about every day going at the tasks they’re known for more or less eternally, with no changes. Then, like I noted, something pulls me up short and I realize that no, Jim isn’t still voicing Kermit on the Street, and Richard Hunt isn’t voicing Scooter in any Muppet production anymore, either.