Big Bird’s Wrangler
What it takes to keep an 8-foot, 2-inch bird fluffed.
One of the many interesting jobs on the set of Sesame Street is that of the Muppet Wrangler—the person in charge of making sure the puppets are all well cared for. I visited the Sesame Street set recently and talked to wrangler Michelle Hickey. She told me about the attention to detail that goes into taking care of the biggest Muppet of all—Big Bird!
“There are over 6,000 feathers on Big Bird,” she said. “They’re hand-glued, and they are backed with a ribbon that is hand-stiched on.”
The 8-foot, 2-inch bird is made with thousands of turkey feathers that are dyed by a special company. The feathers are then rated from letters A to D.
“Only feathers rated A and B are put on the muppet, but sometimes C are used toward the bottom,” Hickey said.
The feathers are replaced every two weeks, or—if there’s a special event—immediately after Big Bird comes home. It’s a difficult job, but Hickey loves it.
“It’s fun, it really is,” she said. “I like to think of Big Bird as my project. And it’s always fun to be on the set. It’s kind of a dream job.”
PHOTO: Muppet wrangler Michelle Hickey on the set of Sesame Street with her favorite project—Big Bird! (Photo Courtesy Aaron Broder)