The state seal of Louisiana consists of a circular layout containing two elements: an outer ring and an inner circular image. The outer ring bears the title of the "State of Louisiana." The inner circle contains the image of a brown pelican feeding its chicks surrounded by the three words of the Louisiana state motto: "Union," "Justice" and "Confidence."
The brown pelican is the state's official bird, which appears on the state flag as well as in many other sites of Louisiana state culture and symbolism. In the seal's image, the pelican appears to rip at its own flesh in order to feed and sustain its offspring, which are chicks that eagerly await food with their necks and beaks outstretched in the nest below. According to State Symbols USA, this image takes certain poetic liberties, as the brown pelican, despite its attentive parenting, has never been observed to tear its own flesh for such purposes in the wild.
In the 21st-century version of the seal, there are only three chicks in the pelican nest. However, older versions may have considerably more, and the highest number ever included in the design was 12. According to Netstate, the most recent renderings are probably truer to life, as pelicans do not typically produce very large broods during any one gestation period.