Big Bird’s species
An early design for Big Bird by Jim Henson, on Children’s Television Workshop stationery.
Big Bird’s precise species is unknown, and over the years, there have been varying explanations for his unusual size and appearance:
- When Big Bird is missing in the 1978 specialChristmas Eve on Sesame Street, Oscar the Grouch reassures Maria, jokingly reminding her that Big Bird is “part homing pigeon.”
- In a 1981 episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, King Friday XIII asked Big Bird if he’s related to the cassowary. Big Bird replied “actually, I’m a golden condor.” 
- In the 1987 special A Muppet Family Christmas, Ma Bear refers to Big Bird as “the giant canary”; The Swedish Chef, seeing him as an upgrade from the Christmas Turkey, calls him “gobbla gobbla humungo.”
- In the 2004 direct-to-video special A Celebration of Me, Grover, Big Bird says, “I wish I could fly likeSuper Grover. But my Grandpa was an emu bird. They can’t fly. But they can run! Every fall, Grandpa ran south for the winter.” Also Big Bird always says he can’t fly, but because he’s only 6 could be a reason why he can’t fly.
- Oscar the Grouch sometimes refers to Big Bird as a “turkey” — an insult rather than a reflection of Big Bird’s species. However, this does help Big Bird hitch a ride on a turkey truck in the 1985 film Follow That Bird; he talks his way onto the truck by claiming that “my friend Oscar always says that I’m a big turkey!” In a 2009 interview with TV Guide, Big Bird said that Oscar is “a little grouchy. He calls me a turkey. I’m not a turkey; I’m a lark.” 
- In the Sesame Street Live production Everyone Makes Music, after Big Bird sings Rockin’ Robin, Baby Bearremarks that Big Bird is one rockin’ robin, and Big Bird remarks, “Actually I’m a canary.”
- In a 2009 appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live when host Jimmy Kimmel asks him if he has ever “googled” Big Bird replies: “Uh, no but I have an Uncle turkey who gobbles”.