The Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is the official Louisiana state bird and has been since its adoption in 1966. When the early European settlers came to the United States they were incredibly impressed with the Pelicans and their generosity and nurturing behavior towards their young and each other.
Louisiana’s state nickname is also “The Pelican State”, and the brown pelican features on the state flag, state seal, and state painting, highlighting the significance of these birds within the state.
Louisiana first began adopting its own official state symbols in 1990, the first symbol was the state flower. A couple of years after this, many other symbols were adopted, such as the Louisiana state insect, each having a role to play in the history of Louisiana and all intertwining together nicely.
State Bird of Louisiana
There are seven species of pelicans in total across the world, with Louisiana’s being the most unique species out of them all. Brown pelicans can be found across the ocean shores and are not found residing on inland lakes like many other pelicans.
They are the only dark pelican too and they are the only pelican species to hunt for their food by diving into the ocean water from the air to catch food.
Pelicans stopped nesting along the coast of Louisiana in 1961 due to the usage of pesticides, and they completely vanished in 1996. Some years after this Louisiana began re-populating its coast with pelicans by transporting fledglings from Florida into Louisiana.
The United States Fish and Wildlife Service listed brown pelicans as an endangered species in 1970; fortunately, however, the Federal Government announced that the brown pelican had “recovered” within Louisiana in 1995.
Facts and Additional Information About Brown Pelicans
Today, there are over 40,000 brown pelicans residing in Louisiana (The Pelican State) today which is incredible when you consider their demise back in 1970, and consistent efforts are being made to increase this number.
Here are some additional facts about brown pelicans that you may not have heard of:
- The pelican family is over 30 million years old.
- They do not just eat fish, they also eat crustaceans, amphibians, turtles, and even other birds!
- Sometimes pelicans will hunt in groups if it will aid the hunting expedition.
- They have webbed feet to help them swim quicker and easier.
- Pelicans breathe from their mouths.
- Brown pelicans are the smallest of all pelican species.
- Brown pelicans are the best adapted to live and co-exist with humans around them.
Most states will have their symbols showcase a relevant story that is indicative of the state and its history, and the Pelican State puts its history and what it stands for across very well in the Louisiana state bird.
These interesting facts about Louisiana and a whole host of others are what make the state so unique and fascinating to those that live there or are researching the historical events or geological makeup of the state.