Performed by Caroll Spinney and occasional others, this big yellow bird can roller skate, ice skate, dance, sing, write poetry and even ride a unicycle. Pretty talented for a character described in the TV show's Bible as a 6-year-old. But despite this wide array of talents, he sings the alphabet as one big long word, pondering what it could ever mean (see ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ).
This character helps children feel okay about not knowing everything by not knowing everything himself, and encourages them to enquire: a common phrase in recent years has been "Asking is a good way of finding things out!" He also teaches other life, alphabet and numerical lessons, "I guess it's better to be who you are. Turns out people like you best that way, anyway."
For many years, his best friend, Mr. Snuffleupagus or Snuffy for short, was deemed by the human cast as "invisible". Every time he would visit, he'd abruptly leave right before the adults came around. Still, Big Bird constantly defended the fact that Snuffy was real. But a string of high profile sexual assults in the early 1980s caused Sesame Workshop (then the Children's Television Workshop) to rethink their position and make the adults see him.
As Spinney is gradually aging, the show has gradually started to train new puppeteers to play Big Bird. These apprentices include both Rick Lyon in the opening theme song of the show's 33rd season, and Matt Vogel in the show's regular new Journey to Ernie segment.