Snoopy’s favorite feathered friend, Woodstock is one of the most recognizable figures from the Peanuts comic strip. A small but scrappy character, Woodstock has silently been wooing Peanuts fans for more than 45 years. And yet, even with his hard earned celebrity, very few people really know the history of this clever little bird. Just where did he come from, and what kind of bird is he, really?
“Woodstock knows that he is very small and inconsequential indeed. It’s a problem we all have. The universe boggles us…Woodstock is a lighthearted expression of that idea.”
-Charles M. Schulz on Woodstock
In order to answer these questions we did a little digging here at Loud Crow. The following is a little background on this beloved cartoon bird.
One Flew Over the Doghouse
While he’s now a permanent fixture around the Peanuts Thanksgiving table, Woodstock didn’t make an appearance in the original comic strip until 1967. At the time, Snoopy had begun befriending birds when they would drop by his doghouse to rest, nest, or sometimes play a game of cards. While Snoopy would tolerate these intruders, rarely did their interactions last longer than one or two strips. It wasn’t until an unnamed Woodstock boldly flew into the picture and landed directly on Snoopy’s nose that readers were introduced to a permanent pal. Over the next 14 months, Woodstock would enjoy a recurring role in the strip, always as Snoopy’s unofficial right-hand man. Then, on June 14, 1968, the most important aspect of Woodstock’s relationship with Snoopy was clearly defined – their friendship.
Five Facts You Might Now Know About Woodstock
1) Woodstock wears contact lenses.
It’s no secret that Woodstock is a bit of an oddball bird. Not only does he dislike flying (he once walked South for winter, with help from Snoopy), he also has reoccurring problems with his sight. According to a strip from 1995, Woodstock’s sight is so bad he has to wear contact lenses in order to see properly. How he gets them into his eyes, well, that’s a mystery audiences may never figure out.
2) Woodstock actually has a voice… and it’s the same as Snoopy’s.
While Woodstock never speaks normal words in the comic (his speech is rendered almost entirely in punctuation and “chicken scratch” marks) he does emit audible sounds in movies and television specials.
Translated as a series of high-pitched honks and squawks, these noises are produced by Bill Melendez… who just so happens to be Snoopy’s voice actor as well. Schulz’s most trusted animator, Melendez first recorded Snoopys voice by talking pure gibberish into a tap recorder and then speeding it up. Woodstock’s staccato voice is produced in a similar way, except in a different register and at a faster speed.
3) Woodstock is highly sensitive.
There are a few things that Woodstock simply cannot stand, mainly a) being mistaken for the wrong species of bird and b) eating thrown breadcrumbs off the ground because he
doesn’t want people to think he’s struggling to get by. An erratic flyer, Woodstock is often seen crashing into objects. What’s more, the poor fellow is prone to “beak bleeds” if he flies higher than 10 feet in the air.
4) Woodstock is a multi-talented bird.
From mechanic to secretary, trivia-whiz to head Beagle Scout member, Woodstock is one highly intelligent and athletic bird. A flawless whistler, Woodstock is also an extremely skilled bridge player. And while he enjoys skating and ice hockey, Woodstock is a terrible football player (try as he might, his wings just aren’t big enough to catch the ball).
5) No one knows just what kind of bird Woodstock is.
While there’s been plenty of speculation, Schulz never definitely answered the question of what type of bird Woodstock was suppose to be. Try as he might, not even Snoopy can figure out the out the origins of his faithful friend.
Popular guesses have included a canary (due to his resemblance to Tweety Bird) and a dove (in honor of his namesake, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair).
Introduce your little ones to Woodstock and the whole Peanuts gang this Thanksgiving with Loud Crow’s latest digital story app. A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is now available worldwide in the iTunes Apple App Store.