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.
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.
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.
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.