Native Wildlife at the Preserve

Because The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve protects pristine Bahamian terrestrial habitats, it’s a haven for wildlife. The abundance of native trees provides food and nesting areas for birds, as well as food and habitat for many arthropods and a number of reptiles.

Birds at The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve

The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve is an exceptional site for birders. Its many trails through different habitats provide good viewing opportunities for a number of species. At least 74 bird species have been spotted at the LLNPP since 2011, and about half of these are resident on Eleuthera year-round.

Some of the most common resident land birds readily found at the Preserve include the Common Ground Dove, White-crowned Pigeon, Bahama Woodstar, Thick-billed Vireo, Bahama Mockingbird, Red-legged Thrush, Bananaquit, Greater Antillean Bullfinch, and Black-faced Grassquit. Thick-billed Vireos especially are sighted frequently, and can be quite tame. They often travel in pairs as they move through the understory in search of insects, fruit, and the occasional small anole lizard.

Other, less obvious species (such as the Great Lizard Cuckoo, Mangrove Cuckoo, and LaSagra’s Flycatcher) are often detected first by their calls and songs, and later located on perches. Waterbirds are restricted to a small area of the LLNPP and, with a few exceptions, are seen less often than the land birds. Perhaps the most regularly seen waterbirds are Green Herons and Yellow-crowned Night Herons, which prefer the edges of the ponds or mangrove swamps. The area surrounding the Welcome Centre features a number of hummingbird feeders that draw Bahama Woodstars, which can be easily seen and photographed. The feeders also attract Bananaquits with their cheerful yellow and black plumage.


Visitors to the freshwater areas at the Levy Preserve can expect to be greeted by friendly Bahama Slider turtles. Initially, the population at the Preserve was quite small; but soon they were joined by others once word got out that the freshwater wetlands at the Preserve are an awesome turtle hangout. All throughout the trails, you may frequently come across a Bahamian Racer snake, which as the name implies will race off into the nearest hole if you get too close. Amongst rocks, signs and tree barks, you’ll find native anoles, geckos and other small native reptiles.

Arthropods at The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve

The Preserve supports a great diversity of arthropods such as insects, spiders, centipedes, crabs, and scorpions. Arthropods are extremely important members of the ecosystem and provide vital ecological services, such as acting as food for birds, bats, lizards and frogs; pollinating flowers; assisting in the breakdown of dead organic matter; and even helping to control nuisance insects such as mosquitoes. Many butterflies – important pollinators of the Preserve’s plants – flutter among trails and display beds. Some commonly seen include the Bahama Swallowtail, Gulf Fritillary, Julia Heliconian, and Long-tailed Skipper. The Levy Preserve’s mangrove and freshwater wetlands host a diverse assortment of dragonflies that can be seen constantly patrolling above the water. Aquatic insects such as whirligig beetles, backswimmers, and water boatmen are visible making their homes within the vegetation just beneath the water’s surface.

New Species Discovered at The Leon Levy Native Plant Preserve

In 2013, Assistant Professor of Biology at the University of The Bahamas Dr. Paul De Luca discovered a new species of katydid while conducting a survey of arthropods at the Preserve. Dr. De Luca and then-Preserve Manager Mark Daniels were walking the Ethan’s Tower trail when they heard the distinctive song of a singing male. Male katydids are known to rub their front wings together to produce a mating song. The two scientists followed the sound to a singing male located on a thatch palm.

Katydids are a close relative of grasshoppers and crickets. The scientific name for this newfound species is Katydid-Erechthis levyi, in honor of Leon Levy; but it’s also referred to as the “blue-faced katydid” because of its striking turquoise colored face.

Surprised but not shocked by the finding, Dr. De Luca said the discovery of a new species to science is a reflection of how much is left to learn about the insects in The Bahamas. It highlights the importance of habitat preservation, which allows the protection of many species that have yet to be discovered.

According to Dr. De Luca, E. levyi does not appear to occur anywhere else in the Greater Antilles, which suggests it may be endemic to The Bahamas, making it the first truly Bahamian katydid.

Learn more about this insect discovery

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