The brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) was designated the official state bird of Louisiana in 1966. Early European settlers were impressed with the pelican's generous and nurturing attitude toward their young, and the brown pelican has been a symbol of Louisiana since that time.
The state bird of Louisiana is 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.
Louisiana's official nickname is "The Pelican State" and the brown pelican appears on Louisiana's state flag, state seal, the official state painting (along with many other symbols and icons of Louisiana), and is one of three Louisiana symbols displayed on the U.S. mint's bicentennial quarter.
Pesticide use caused Pelicans to stop nesting along the Louisiana coast in 1961, and they completely disappeared by 1966. Louisiana began attempting to re-populate its coastline by transporting Florida fledglings into the state. The US Fish and Wildlife Service listed the Brown Pelican as an endangered species in 1970, but the Federal Government declared the Brown Pelican "recovered" in Louisiana in 1995 . About 40,000 Brown Pelicans call "The Pelican State" their home today.