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The Underrated Pelican Gets Long Overdue Honor: The Florida State Bird


At Pelican Water Systems, we have always loved pelicans. After all, what other bird could hold 384 ounces of water in its beak? Heck, our elegant Pelican Glass Fliptop Water Table Bottle only holds 32 ounces and we think it’s pretty nifty. The pelican is the Rodney Dangerfield of birds – they don’t get no respect – ridiculed, overlooked, and underrated. At Pelican, we are as proud of the state’s Brown and White Pelicans as others are of pink flamingoes. By the way, real flamingoes are a pretty rare sight in Florida while pelicans are plentiful! Yet we’ve never seen anyone sticking hundreds of plastic pelicans on a loved one’s front lawn to celebrate a big birthday and we don’t think that’s fair.

When our CEO found out the Northern Mockingbird was the Florida state bird, he could barely contain his dismay. The flamingo would be more understandable, although a bit cliché, but why in the world did Florida select such a non-descript little bird for this distinction? We did a little sleuth work and discovered the mockingbird became the state bird in 1927, for no apparent reason other than its lyrical singing voice.

Florida prides itself on the most beautiful beaches in the world, Cape Canaveral, Disneyworld, the best stone crabs on earth, the incredible Everglades, the world-famous Mermaids of Weeki Wachee Springs, and so much more. We decided the pelican would be a worthier bird than the plain mockingbird, so in November 2016, we launched an aggressive lobbying campaign targeted at state legislators. Initially, all we needed were 20,000 signatures and a few uniquely convincing arguments in support of the pelican. Here are the ones we believe helped seal the deal.

  1. Pelicans were featured in the delightful Finding Nemo and The Pelican and the Snipe, a 1944 Disney animated short film. To Kill a Mockingbird may have been a great film, but wasn’t exactly upbeat.
  2. With snowy white feathers and pink-tangerine colored bills, the migrant, winter White Pelicans glide gracefully along the Florida shoreline just inches above the water. Mockingbirds are a dull gray and sing their brains out on top of dumpsters and under shrubby hedges.
  3. The mockingbird is also the state bird of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Texas … so overused. The Brown Pelican is the state bird of just one state: Louisiana.
  4. The NBA has the New Orleans Pelicans … you don’t see any NBA, NFL, or MLB teams called the Mockingbirds, do you?
  5. In the red corner, the bantamweight mockingbird, weighing in at mere 1.8 ounces; in the blue corner, the heavyweight pelican and world champion, weighing in at 21.3 pounds.

We are happy to report the Florida state legislature decided in our favor and the pelican will officially be named the state bird in the next few months. As part of the agreement, Pelican Water Systems will pay Florida a generous sponsorship fee. While the sum of the fee has not been disclosed, officials concur it is “substantial” and will impact the statewide economy on a grand scale.

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