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Louisiana State Bird
Adopted in 1958, Official on July 27, 1966.
This bird has been a symbol of Louisiana since the arrival of early European settlers who were impressed with the Pelican's generous and nurturing attitude toward their young.
In 1902, the pelican was made a part of the official Louisiana seal and, 10 years later, in 1912, the pelican and her young adorned the Louisiana state flag as well. The pelican is also one of Louisiana's nicknames is "The Pelican State."
In 1958, the pelican was made the official state bird of Louisiana. This act was amended on July 26, 1966 to specifically the brown pelican, Pelecanus occidentalis.
It nests from South Carolina to Brazil. Pelicans are famous for their large bill, the lower portion of which has a pouch which may be greatly extended. Unique among the world's seven species of pelicans, the Brown Pelican is found along the ocean shores and not on inland lakes. It is the only dark pelican, and also the only one that plunges from the air into the water to catch its food.
The birds, depending almost entirely on fish for food, scoop up quantities of water into their pouches as they seize prey from salt water. As the bill is elevated the water dribbles from the mandibles, and the pouch contracts as fish are swallowed. Five pounds of fish a day is the average consumption of a one-month old pelican.
The use of pesticides caused the Brown Pelican, native to the area, to stop nesting along the Gulf coast in the 1960s. By 1966, the bird had disappeared in Louisiana. In 1968, Louisiana began importing fledglings from Florida in an attempt to repopulate the coastline and, in 1970, the Federal Government declared the Brown Pelican an endangered species. Protection of the Brown Pelican's habitat along with repopulation efforts resulted in the Federal Government's declaration, in 1995, that the bird had "recovered" in Louisiana.
Description of the Louisiana State Bird: Brown Pelican
Louisiana Statutes, Title 49, Section 49:159.
Taxonomic Hierarchy of Brown Pelican
Official State Birds
a. Any of the class Aves of warm-blooded, egg-laying, feathered vertebrates with forelimbs modified to form wings.
b. Such an animal hunted as game.
c. Such an animal, especially a chicken or turkey, used as food
a. Bird selected (as by the legislature) as an emblem of a state of the United States.
NOTE: Many states have more than one official bird, or have designate state birds more specifically.