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Why A Pelican?
When this Louisiana flag was adopted in July 1, 1912. May 25, 2006, it was decided that the pelican would have three drops of blood on her breast. The Baton Rouge artist Curtis Vann Jr. introduced a somewhat realistic image of a brown pelican but showed her in white as required by law. He also added the brown pelican’s yellow-brown crown.
According to medieval beliefs, pelicans would be so attentive to the needs of their chicks that they would draw their own blood to feed the chicks when there was no other food. She represents the Passion of Jesus and the Eucharist. The shape of her head and her out stretched wings over the three chicks upon the blue field form a fleur-de-lis, another popular symbol in Louisiana.
When I was a kid 1950’s and 60’s i spend many days down at Big Lake in southwestern Louisiana. I had a blast! Swimming, fishing, crabbing and horseback riding filled my days. But there were no pelicans. When I returned to Big Lake in the 80’s, the pelicans were there. I was so amazed to see them. To me, they were an oddity. What had really happened was the poisons used in farming had made the egg shells too delicate. So the eggs broke rather than hatch. Also the hurricanes, especially Audrey, had done a number on the pelican population. They had to be imported from Florida and reintroduced to the area. Now there is a growing population of them. They are brown pelicans, not the white shown on the flag. I think they are so cool.