St. Pete designates the Brown Pelican the official Sunshine City Bird

Photo of a brown pelican
smith and associates

Yes you Peli-CAN! On January 9, the City of St. Pete officially named the Brown Pelican the city bird. I was astonished the Brown Pelican hadn’t already been designated the city bird if I’m being honest. A long overdue honor.

Notable features on the Brown Pelican include an oversized bill, sinuous neck, and big, dark body.

It's official.

Posted by Rick Kriseman on Thursday, January 9, 2020

They feed by plunge-diving from high up, using the force of impact to stun small fish before scooping them up.

They are fairly common today, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and are an an excellent example of a species’ recovery from pesticide pollution that once placed them at the brink of extinction.

After nearly disappearing from North America in the 1960s and 1970s, Brown Pelicans made a full comeback thanks to pesticide regulations.

The name Brown Pelican belies this birds’ other subtle colors. Thanks to Jay Anthony for this great profile shot taken in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Posted by Cornell Lab of Ornithology on Monday, August 10, 2015

Why is this bird so freaking awesome?

Some pelicans can enjoy long lifespans. The oldest known brown pelican lived to be 43, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Brown Pelicans are expert divers. During a dive, the Brown Pelican tucks its head and rotates its body to the left. This maneuver is probably to cushion the trachea and esophagus from the impact.

You can watch these beautiful birds from North Shore and Vinoy Park as they look to pick up dinner on the go.

If you’ll excuse me, I think I need to head to Amulet or Black Amethyst to get a brown pelican tattooed on my back.

Now that we have a city bird, can we also designate a city reptile, cat, and dog?

Want to observe birds in the ‘Burg?

I cannot recommend enough that you go and visit Boyd Hill Nature Preserve, Sawgrass Lake Park, Maximo Park, Seaside Seabird Sanctuary (in St. Pete Beach), and Weedon Island Preserve.

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Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to