Louisiana State Bird

Louisiana state bird: Brown Pelican Pelecanus occidentalis

Louisiana State Bird Description:

  • Size: 39 to 54 inches (100-137 cm)
  • Wingspan: 79 inches (200 cm)
  • Weight: 70.6 to 176.5 ounces (2000-5000 g)

This is a large water bird with a long bill that includes an extended pouch. It has a large, heavy body and short legs with webbed feet. The wings are long and broad and the tail is short.

The Brown Pelican has a mainly white head with yellow shading on the crown. The neck is white and brown and the bare skin on the face is bluish. The white parts actually turn bright yellow-gold during breeding season.

The upperparts are grey and streaked with brown and the underparts are dark brown. The webbed feet and legs are dark grey or black.

Both sexes look the same.


The Brown Pelican lives in warm coastal waters. It is rarely found inland, staying mainly along the shoreline. It is often found on rocks above the sea.


During the summer breeding season, the Brown Pelican can be found from the Maryland coast down to and around the entire coastline of Florida and stretching along the entire coast of the Gulf of Mexico.

They are also found on the west coast along the shoreline from California to South America. They are also found in the Caribbean and northern South America. After breeding, they may be found as far north as New England.

They can be found in the winter along both coasts from central California, on the west coast, and Virginia, on the east coast, southward to South America.


The Brown Pelican catches its food by diving into the water from a height of around 25 feet. It feeds mainly on fish and some crustaceans.


The nests are large and flat. They are built from sticks and lined with grass and leaves. It is usually built in short trees, shrubs or right on the ground. Brown Pelicans nest in colonies that often include other water birds.

A Few Things You Probably Didn't Know About the Louisiana State Bird:

  • When it is not breeding, the Brown Pelican can be found in groups of up to 50 birds. They can be seen roosting and fishing together.
  • While most birds warm their eggs with the skin of their breasts, Brown Pelicans use their feet for incubation.
  • he Brown Pelican is a conservation success story. The population was in decline from the early 20 th century into the 1950's and it was listed as endangered into the 1970's. The ban on the use of DDT has led to a population recovery. It was removed from the endangered species list in 1985. The total population in the United States now exceeds historical levels.

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