Have you heard about the Pelicans from Louisiana who got into a scramble with a bunch of Hawks? They also rumbled with Raptors.
Pelicans, our state bird, have taken on a new status lately. For most of the state’s existence, the billed bird has been merely a symbol on the state seal – her wings outstretched while chicks peck at her breast.
There was a time when the bird glided majestically above the state’s waters, but then in the age of pesticides, the state bird became endangered, so scarce that a gang of them had to be shipped in from Florida and placed on barrier islands, where scientists could nurse the breeding process.
By 2005, the pelicans were making a comeback. They could be spotted on watery outlets, such as Lake Pontchartrain, standing on a post, eyeing the habitats of the water.
Then came Hurricane Katrina, and they – like everyone else – headed for safer ground. Katrina’s wrath reminded folks how fragile the coastline had become, so that by the time the birds returned, they were more than just a decoration on a flag, but a symbol of saving the wetlands.
That in itself is a noble task for a bird that would be content with just spending its days eating fish, but then it got even newer status: No other state bird has the prestige of having an NBA team named after it. Credit Tom Benson, who, when he bought the former New Orleans Hornets, wanted a more local name. Benson had trademarked the Pelican name, which was once used for a minor league baseball team, when he had hoped to have such a team of his own. He could have never realized that the name he owned would instead one day have the status of the NBA.
So now the state bird is in the news throughout the winter and spring, tangling with not only other birds but with a menagerie of Bucks, Grizzlies and Mavericks. While earlier pelicans were trucked from Florida, these Pelicans now fly to that state to feel the Heat and face the Magic.
There are no teams named after fish, for whom pelicans are natural predators, but there is one team name that fits in with the Pelicans habitat. Pelicans live to boldly invade lakes. May Lakers of the future have reason to be fearful of them.