Louisiana's first territorial governor, William C.C. Claiborne had great admiration for the awkward bird that inhabited the Gulf Coast region. The pelican, rather than let its young starve, would tear at its own flesh to feed them. The Governor's great respect for the Pelican led him to first use the bird on official documents. Many different versions of the present seal, including one with as many as twelve chicks in the nest, were utilized. Pelicans rarely have more than three chicks in the nest at any time, and it was a version with three chicks that was officially designed on April 30, 1902 as the official state seal.
The honeybee is the official Louisiana state insect. Honey has been collected in Louisiana since before it became a state in 1812. In the 19th century, some of Louisiana's big plantations produced thousands of pounds of honey each year. Today, not only are thousands of pounds of honey collected every year in Louisiana, but queen bees bred in Louisiana are sent all over the United States to raise bee colonies.
Louisiana's state bird is the Eastern Brown Pelican. The lower portion of the pelican's large bill is a pouch that can be greatly extended. Pelicans eat fish, catching them by scooping up salt water with their pouch. The average one-month-old pelican eats about five pounds of fish a day! The pelican is featured on Louisiana's flag and state seal, and one of Louisiana's nicknames is "The Pelican State."
The Catahoula Leopard Dog, often called the Catahoula Hound, is the official state dog. It is the only breed of dog native to Louisiana and is a cross between a breed of domestic dogs raised by the Indians of the Catahoula Lake region and the Spanish "war dog" that came to Louisiana in the 16th century. The Catahoula Leopard Dog has a spotted coat and webbed feet and makes an excellent pet, guard dog and hunting dog.
About half of Louisiana is covered with timber of various kinds. The bald cypress, the Louisiana state tree, is a beautiful hardwood that grows allover the state, especially in swampy areas. Many houses and buildings built of cypress over a hundred years ago still stand today in Louisiana, and are almost as good as new.
The state flower of Louisiana is the magnolia. In the summer, the state's thousands of magnolia flowers have an especially rich fragrance. The blooms are very large and creamy white. The magnolia tree is an evergreen.