Little Bird first appeared on Sesame Street in Season 1, and was often used as a foil to Big Bird, due to their contrasting sizes. Little Bird was a refurbished version of the Muppetised Kenner Gooney Bird, created by Jim Henson for Easy Bake Oven commercials in 1968.
Even though Little Bird is primarily performed by a female puppeteer, the character is male. The song "Mr. Big Bird, Mr. Little Bird" appears on the Grin & Giggle with Big Bird LP. The 1973 Character Style Guide from CTW also describes him as a "he." In episode 59 of The MuppetCast, Fran Brill confirmed in an e-mail that she always thought of Little Bird as a male.
Henson, who originated the Bird in the Kenner commercials, performed Little Bird in at least two sketches from the first season: a sketch from Episode 0028 in which he meets Big Bird, and the game show "Pick Your Pet." Although Little Bird was used sporadically on the show, he proved effective with test audiences:
|“||Although he did not appear often, children were really attentive to Little Bird. They participated fully during his "Imagination Game". Perhaps he could play a greater role on the street.||”|
In addition to the sketches listed below, Little Bird was featured in "Wonderful/Yucchy", singing about his lunch, the contents of which are wonderful to him but yucky to a passer-by. He also appeared in a sketch where a cow named Lola tries to find a home and encounters an unsuccessful attempt to live in Little Bird's nest. In that sketch, Little Bird is performed by Jerry Nelson.
Little Bird was used rarely on the show itself as the 1970s ended (although he continued as a frequent character in books, most often flying or perched in the background, as recently as 2010). However, he made a few cameo appearances on the show during the 1980s and 1990s. On-screen appearances include a brief fly-by in the song "Do-Op Hop," at Birdland in "The Birdland Jump," and a line in "We Are All Earthlings." Little Bird's most recent US puppet appearance was in a 1999 Sesame Street group shot photo (pictured). Little Bird also appears as one of the animatronic figures in the ride Spaghetti Space Chase at Universal Studios Singapore.
Little Bird's birthday is marked in Sesame Street Calendars as December 17th.
- Big Bird sees Little Bird and wonders what kind of animal he is. He tries to communicate with Little Bird by barking, meowing, and mooing, until he finally asks what Little Bird is. After Little Bird tells Big Bird that he's a bird, Big Bird doesn't believe him, thinking that birds are big, so Little Bird compares their similarities until he convinces Big Bird that he is a bird.
- Little Bird plays an imagination game with the audience. He closes his eyes, and imagines things. He ends the game by imagining a monster behind him, and when he opens his eyes, Herry Monster appears behind him.
- Little Bird talks about the concept of "next to", and Cookie Monster cuddles up next to Little Bird.
- A casa is drawn for Little Bird, who replies "Casa".
- On Sesamstrasse, his name is Klein Bibo, "klein" being German for "little", and "Bibo" referring to the translated name for Big Bird.
- In Sesame Street books that are translated to Dutch, his name is Pinorino, referring to Pino from Sesamstraat.
- Between 2003 and 2005 the puppet was used on Sesamstrasse for 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.
- The Sesame Street Storybook, cover and frontispiece only (1971)
- The Together Book (1971)
- The Sesame Street Storybook (1972)
- The Sesame Street Coloring Book (1973)
- The Sesame Street 1, 2, 3 Storybook, cover only (1973)
- The Sesame Street ABC Storybook, cover only (1974)
- Big Bird's Busy Book (1975)
- Bert's Big Band Paint-with-Water Book (1976)
- The Sesame Street Postcard Book (1976)
- Big Bird and Little Bird's Big & Little Book (1977)
- Ernie's Book of Animals (1977)
- Muppets in My Neighborhood (1977)
- Sesame Street Goes West (1977)
- The Sesame Street Cookbook (1978)
- The Sesame Street Bedtime Storybook, cover only (1978)
- Early Bird on Sesame Street (1980)
- Fix It, Please (1980)
- I Can Do It Myself (1980)
- The Sesame Street Dictionary (1980)
- A Day in the Life of Oscar the Grouch (1981)
- I Have a Friend (1981)
- Sherlock Hemlock and the Creatures from Outer Space (1981)
- The Sesame Street Circus of Opposites (1981)
- Big and Little Stories (1982)
- More Who's Who on Sesame Street (1982)
- The Sesame Street Question and Answer Book About Animals (1983)
- Early Bird on Sesame Street (1983)
- Nobody Cares About Me! (1983)
- I Think That It Is Wonderful (1984)
- Trace & Color Alphabet (1984)
- Big Bird's Book of Rhymes (1985)
- Big Bird's Busy Day (1987)
- The Colors of Spring (1987)
- The Runaway Soup and Other Stories (1987)
- Going Places (1988)
- The Sesame Street ABC Book of Words (1988)
- A My Name Is Alice (1989)
- Great Monsterpieces (1989)
- I Can't Wait Until Christmas (1989)
- Bert's Beautiful Sights (1990)
- Museum of Monster Art (1990)
- The Treasure Hunt (1990)
- Hide-and-Seek with Big Bird (1991)
- Sesame Street 123 (1991)
- Sleep Tight! (1991)
- My Name Is Big Bird (1992)
- We're Different, We're the Same (1992)
- From Trash to Treasure (1993)
- Elmo's Mother Goose (1993)
- Elmo's Big Lift-and-Look Book (1994)
- Sesame Street Stays Up Late! (1995)
- Elmo's Lift-and-Peek Around the Corner Book (1996)
- Rise and Shine! (1996; reworked as Up, Up, Up! in 2011)
- Elmo Can... Quack Like a Duck (1997)
- Elmo's Christmas Colors (1997)
- Where Is Elmo's Blanket? (1999)
- Look and Find Elmo (2002)
- Fun with Friends (2004)
- The City Sings a Song! (2005)
- Holiday Fun (2005)
- Fly Away with Big Bird (2006)
- Learn About Measuring with Big Bird (2006)
- Good Night, Tucked in Tight (2007)
- Elmo's World Super Sticker Book (2007)
- Lots of Opposites (2007)
- Rosita's Easter on Sesame Street (2007)
- In Elmo's Easter Parade (2009)
- Meet the People in Your Neighborhood (2009)
- Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood? (2009)
- Busy Friends (2010)
- Out & About (2010)
- Plant a Tree for Me! (2010)