Weekly Muppet Wednesdays: Little Bird

WMW Little Bird

Today’s post was written by Michael Baldasare.


Performed by…Little Bird
Fran Brill
Various Other Performers

First appearance…
Sesame Street Season 1 (1969)

Most recent appearance…
Sesame Street in the 1990s (on-screen)

Best known role…
The opposite of Big Bird

Little Bird is a little feathered friend of Big Bird and their sizes are exactly different. While Big Bird is big, Little Bird is little. Little Bird was first used as the Muppetised version of the Kenner Gooney Bird, created by Jim Henson for the Easy Bake Oven commercials in 1968.

The puppet then first appeared during the first season of Sesame Street. Jim Henson performed Little Bird in at least two sketches. In his first sketch, me met Big Bird. He also appeared in the game show “Pick Your Pet”.

In Season 2, the little bird was now refurbished to make him small and cute and was performed by Fran Brill. Although Brill is a female performer, the character is actually male.

Little Bird was very prominent in his own two sketches. In the first sketch he played the imagination game with the audience where he closed his eyes and imagined things. He concluded the game by imagining a monster behind him. But when he opened his eyes, it was really Herry Monster who was behind him. In the second sketch, Little Bird talked about the concept of ‘next to’ and Cookie Monster showed up to cuddle next to him.

In addition to his own sketches, Little Bird was also featured in the song ‘Wonderful/Yucchy’ where he showed a small Orange Anything Muppet girl his lunch – a lunchbox full of worms. He also appeared in a sketch from Season 5 where a cow named Lola tried to find a home and unsuccessfully encountered an attempt to live in Little Bird’s nest. In that sketch, Little Bird was performed by Jerry Nelson.

Little Bird was now rarely seen on the show after the 1970’s, though he continued as a frequent character in many Sesame Street books and merchandise. He was most recently featured in Sesame Street sticker books in the early 2010’s. He was also immortalized in toy form in the first series of Medicom Sesame Street Kubricks in 2003.

Marionette versions of Little Bird were also used during the songs ‘Do-Op Hop”, “I Whistle a Happy Tune”, and the “Song of One.” He even made small on-screen appearances during the 1980’s and 1990’s including a brief fly-by at Birdland in “The Birdland Jump” and having a line in “We Are All Earthlings.”

Although Little Bird was no longer on the Street, the puppet used for him was used on Sesamstrasse as an unnamed bird and Turbo Theo in episodes 2214 and 2222, respectively. The puppet was also used as a cuckoo bird, that Finchen helped to find a new sound. However, the animatronic figure version of him was recently featured in the ride Spaghetti Space Chase at Universal Studios Singapore.

A very simple reason why Sesame Street needs Little Bird is that we could find out the size difference between him and Big Bird. Big Bird would’ve been lonely if Little Bird wasn’t around. I think it’s best for the Street to have Little Bird so he and Big Bird could demonstrate big and little or become close friends. But now it looks like Little Bird hasn’t been around frequently so I hope he continues to make new street and merchandise appearances in the future…

The Muppet Mindset by Ryan Dosier, muppetmindset@gmail.com

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