The evolution of Big Bird.

Image As seen in / Year Notes
Sesame Street
Season 1
The original Big Bird is ungainly in design and characterization, with clumsy body movements and a hick-like voice. The arrangement of the feathers appears more haphazard. Caroll Spinney has been quoted saying, "He didn't look too keen. I thought he was one of the ugliest things I'd ever seen!"

During the first season, Big Bird’s design is continuously modified. Among the puppet’s first changes are brighter orange legs, after his original set of legs caught fire in an incident when a klieg light fell only a couple feet away. Later, the Bird's overhanging eyelids are placed higher to indicate a happier expression.

Sesame Street
Season 1
Late into the first season, Big Bird's head is given a makeover, with a fuller crown of feathers and mobile eyelids. The Bird's right arm, once pinned to his side, is given life through a fishing line attached from under the neck to the wrist of the left hand.
The Flip Wilson Show
Episode #1
For Big Bird's appearances at the 1970 Emmy Awards and The Flip Wilson Show, a different puppet is used with an even larger head and cleaner feathers, indicative of Big Bird's design in later years. This puppet also sports googly pupils, similar to the ones of Cookie Monster.
Sesame Street
Season 2
Big Bird has a rounder, slightly smaller head. The Bird's voice and personality slowly begin to change, gradually becoming more childlike.
Sesame Street
Season 3
More feathers are added to Big Bird's head, making him his current 8'2" size. Also, his eye focus is improved.
Sesame Street
Season 4
During this period, Big Bird's head becomes considerably more almond-shaped. His eye focus has been improved even more.
Sesame Street
Season 8
Three bright yellow highlights on Big Bird's forehead are now evident. Though, they have varied in size over the years.
Sesame Street
Season 10
This more properly built version of Big Bird, with an even rounder head and a more shapely neck, closely resembles the current puppet. However, unlike most future Big Bird puppets, this version has the ability to completely shut his eyelids.
Follow That Bird
The three light yellow highlights atop Big Bird's eyes begin to form a full ring, as well as becoming even lighter in color.
Sesame Street
Season 20
Big Bird has a slightly taller forehead and a more slender neck.
Sesame Street
Season 25
Big Bird is now somewhat more vibrant in color, compared to preceding puppets. His head takes a slightly different shape and his forehead highlights are somewhat darker.

An alternate puppet with closable eyelids is occasionally used during the mid-1990s (such as in Quiet Time).

Sesame Street
Season 35
Big Bird's feathers are fluffier now. His forehead is even taller, and his upper neck tends to jut out more.

Starting in Season 41, specifically for episodes that use blue-screen in some sequences (in episodes 4222 and 4265, for example), the blue lines on his eyelids are changed to gray.

Alternate Big Bird Puppets and Characters
The Blue Bird of Happiness
A blue version of Big Bird from Follow That Bird. The feathers and beak are light blue, but the tail is not entirely dyed. The head of this version is still used as practice for new puppeteers and was used during the screening for Garibaldo, Big Bird's counterpart in Vila Sésamo.
Big Bird
This is Matt Vogel's Big Bird puppet. The feathers on his head are fluffier, and the blue lines of his eyelids are a slightly different color to not interfere with the blue-screen background used during the Journey to Ernie segments. When Matt performs Big Bird in street scenes, he has normal eyelid colors.
During the mid-to-late 1990s, an alternate Big Bird puppet was used in street scenes which required Big Bird to shut his eyes. It was also used during the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade performances. It has bigger eyes and the head shape more closely resembles the 2004-present puppet.
Baby Big Bird
Baby Big Bird as seen in Sesame Beginnings.
Predecessor Puppets and Planning
Gourmet Bird[1]
Jim Henson's earliest idea for a walk-around bird puppet was originally designed for a Stouffer's Food commercial which was never produced.[2] The drawing on the right lays out the fundamentals for how the puppet would work, which are largely the same with those that would later be applied to Big Bird.
Nutty Bird from Royal Crown Cola ads
While not a full-body puppet, Nutty Bird's silly appearance and warm color scheme (including his yellow base, with variations of orange and red) were traits that would be incorporated into Big Bird's design.
Design sketches for Sesame Street
Henson's finished color sketch of his initial "goofy" vision for Big Bird. Here, the bird looks noticeably slimmer than how the actual puppet came to be.


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