Santa isn't our only visitor during New York's winter months. Our wildlife photographer, William Straite captured some great photos of the rare Arctic Snowy Owl.

Most of us have never seen one and probably had never even heard of the Snowy Owl before the Harry Potter movie franchise. Harry received the owl named Hedwig for his 11th birthday.

William from Prospect, NY, is retired and spends his time travelling the state searching for wildlife to photograph in their natural habitat. He put in hundreds of hours  and covered thousands of miles in search of the rare owl before "hitting the jackpot."

The Snowy Owl visits New York for a short period of time during the winter as the weather is less harsh than the Arctic and perhaps easier to forage for food. In addition to sharing some beautiful photos below, William also offered up Snowy Owl info.

  • breed on the Artic Tundra and are believed to mate for life.
  • reside in wide open areas such as farm fields, airports and beaches
  • diet includes lemmings, voles, and other rodents, up to 1600 per year
  • hunt from the ground or low vantage points both day and night
  • ancient cave paintings in France depict them with prehistoric lions and horses
William adds, Snowy Owls are frequently spotted off the shores of Lake Ontario, near windmills in Madison and Lewis Counties, and the Syracuse Airport. Unfortunately, collisions with those windmills and airplanes are two of their biggest threats.
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