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City of St. Pete officially names the Brown Pelican its city bird — and it’s about time

Over the years the Brown Pelican has become more St. Pete than St. Pete itself.

St. Petersburg City Council officially adopted the Brown Pelican as its city bird by a unanimous vote Thursday morning.

Mayor Rick Kriseman’s administration took to Facebook shortly after the vote to celebrate.

“BIG NEWS,” the post read. “After many years of admiring this waterfront native, St. Petersburg City Council unanimously adopted the Brown Pelican as the official City Bird.”

The post shows an image of a majestic, soaring pelican amid the backdrop of a bright blue sky and puffy white clouds.

Kriseman shared it with the simple words, “it’s official.”

For those who have spent more than a week in St. Pete, you know that the pelican has long been a symbol of the waterside city.

Sitting pelicans are on the city seal and have been through various iterations of them. The pelicans used to be stamped on some of the city’s long gone iconic green benches. They’re on city buildings and even utility bills.

So it’s no wonder the city finally made it official.

While not all of St. Pete enjoys the actual pelicans, the city’s eastern and southern border is all Tampa Bay waterfront and there’s an extensive series of canals where residents and visitors don’t have to look far to spot a Brown Pelican.

The birds can often be seen swooping into the water to gulp up a fish. The bird even made a cameo in political discussions about building a new pier when some residents lamented about one failed proposed design, who’s going to clean up all the pelican poop? Before the old pier was demolished, the birds were a staple along the approach where it was not uncommon for an unsuspecting fisherman to lose his catch to a hungry, thieving pelican.

Even though the Brown Pelican is native to all sorts of places across North American, over the years the pelican has become more St. Pete then St. Pete itself. Now the city is officially welcoming it to the family.


Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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