WATERBURY (AP) - Hundreds of birders have been flocking to the Vermont town of Waterbury to get a glimpse of a rare Northern owl hawk.

The owl has been spotted on a snowy meadow off Vermont 100 near the intersection of Gregg Hill Road.

Kim Likakis, a birder and retired securities trader, drove nearly three hours from Bennington on Tuesday. "It's the talk of Northern New England," she said. "It sounds insane, I know."

The Northern hawk owl usually lives in Canada, and other parts of the world like Norway, Finland and Siberia. The owls have been seen in Vermont in the past but it's uncommon for one to stay for the winter.

Experts surmise that the owl is likely in search of food.

"You have these rodent populations that are very cyclical. They'll boom and then you'll get a big crash and the owl population will sort of ride the cycle, too," said Jim Shallow, the conservation and policy director at Audubon Vermont in Huntington, who traveled to Waterbury earlier in the week and got a glimpse of the owl.

The Northern hawk owl or Surnia ulula flies similar to a hawk and has a long tail and pointed wings.

Snowy owls also have been spotted along the East Coast this year but have a different diet.

"The snowy owls are probably coming from even farther north and they have a different food source," said naturalist educator Larry Clarfeld of the North Branch Nature Center in Montpelier.

Birders from New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania have traveled to Waterbury to get a glimpse of the hawk owl.

"When this owl turns its head and those yellow eyes lock with your eyes, it really is a powerful experience," Clarfeld said.

The journey was worth it for Likakis and her mother.

The face of this owl is amazing. The contrast of dark and light. It has a very well marked face," she said.