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USA (national)

Louisiana State Flag

Louisiana's flag - click to see all state flags
The brown pelican is featured on the state flag of Louisiana (center image is enlarged on this flag in order to show details). The brown pelican also the state bird, appears on the state seal, bicentenial quarter, state painting, and is the state's nickname: "The Pelican State." See All State Flags - National Flag.

The state flag of Louisiana displays a white pelican nurturing its young by tearing at its own breast (signified by three drops of blood), with a white banner below containing the state motto in blue letters (Union, Justice, and Confidence); all on a field of blue.

Flags and heraldic symbols sometimes stray from the facts - pelicans are known for their attentive nurturing of chicks, but do not really tear at themselves to feed them (self-preservation is the norm in nature, not self-sacrifice). Mark Shields, author of the Brown Pelican account for Birds of North America (BNA) Online (the definitive source for scientific information about our birds) says:

"Pelicans do NOT tear at their own flesh to feed their young. This legend, which has taken on some religious significance as a symbol of self-sacrifice, dates back to at least medieval times. It may have begun as a result of misinterpretation of normal feeding behavior, in which the parent holds it bill down along its breast as young reach in to take fish from the parent's bill or pouch. The truth is that pelican parents, facing starvation, would abandon their young and save themselves."

The pelican has been a symbol of Louisiana since colonial times (read more on the Louisiana state bird page). The pelican is found on Louisiana's state seal, state painting, and is one of three Louisiana symbols that appear on the U.S. Mint's Louisiana bicentennial quarter. Ten very different flags have flown over Louisiana:

10 flags that have flown over Louisiana - click to see all state flags
From Louisiana Secretary of State's
A Brief History of Louisiana - Under 10 Flags

1 - Spanish Flag of Leone & Castile
2 - French Fleur-de-Lis (LaSalle) [1682]
3 - British Grand Union [1763]
4 - Bourbon Spain [1769]
5 - French Tri-Color [1803]
6 - U.S. Flag of 15 Stars [1803]
7 - West Florida Lone Star
8 - Independent Louisiana (1861)
9 - Confederate Flag (1861)
10 - Louisiana Flag [1912]

Source:
Links:
The Louisiana State Quarter: U.S. Mint
All State Flags - National Flag

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Louisiana Symbols & Icons:

bird - dog
mammal
reptile - insect
crustacean  
amphibian
fish - salt. fish
flower - plant
wildflower
vegetable
tree - soil
fossil - mineral
heritage

flag - seal
motto - pledge
name - nickname
song 1-2-3-4
dance - quarter
instrument
painting - poems
museum
colors- tartan
fruit - meat pie
cuisine - jellies
drink- donut
 

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Louisiana Gifts - Gifts by State