La Lechuza: The Legend and Origins of the Mythical Creature

La Lechuza

In the haunting borderlands of Northern Mexico and Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, a chilling legend has been passed down through generations. La Lechuza, a seven-foot owl with a woman’s face and a piercing cry, is said to haunt the night, preying on drunk men and children who stumble into her path. With her piercing gaze and talons sharp as knives, La Lechuza is a figure of terror and cautionary tale, inspiring fear in all who encounter her.

The exact origins of La Lechuza are unknown as there are multiple versions of her story existing across the region. Some say she was once a human woman who was wronged and now seeks revenge as a half-human creature. Others believe she is a witch’s familiar, taking the form of an owl at night to do her mistress’ bidding. Whatever her true nature, one thing remains certain – La Lechuza is a powerful symbol of the darkness that can lurk within the human soul, and the consequences of allowing anger and vengeance to consume us.

Who doesn’t love a legend of a persecuted woman and her terrifying revenge? The legend of La Lechuza has everything you’re looking for in a terrifying campfire tale: a shocking origin story and some devastating consequences for those who choose to cross her path.

Let’s dive into the varying accounts of the origins of the La Lechuza, what the creature looks like, and how to avoid it.

La Lechuza

What is La Lechuza?

La Lechuza is a terrifying creature to behold. Picture a giant owl with the face of a woman. In some accounts, the creature stands at 7 feet tall with a 15 feet wingspan, but some say she’s just the size of a traditional barn owl. Either way, it’s the stuff of nightmares.

The original Lechuza from Mexican and Texano lore tells the story of a woman that practiced the magic of the devil. The people of the town decided to put an end to her magic and murdered her. She used her magic to return as an owl with the face of a woman to exact her revenge on those who crossed her.

La Lechuza

According to some accounts, there are multiple Lechuza, and they are the manifestation of shape-shifting witches or evil spirits. Each woman sold their soul to the devil himself in exchange for their witchy powers. At night, she shapeshifts into a Lechuza, the big bird with a woman’s face. 

This description is similar to the harpies of Grecian mythology. 

No matter the stature size or origin story, these creatures only take flight at night. In the daytime, they masquerade as your average village witch.

La Lechuza

The Dangers of La Lechuza

The Lechuza is of course not content to spend her night as your average barn owl (which is the direct translation of the Spanish word “lechuza”), hunting for mice and small animals.

They hunt humans.

According to legend, once they find their target, they’ll perch high up so their prey cannot see them. They mimic the cry of a baby, and when their mark leaves their home to find the source of the sound, they swoop down and carry off their dinner. Lechuza can carry full-grown men in their talons, so a muscular build will not protect you.

lechuza myth

To adapt to modern technology, the Lechuza have changed their tactics. Most current accounts involve the creature deliberately swooping down on the front of a car that travels the roads alone at night.

After the victim swerves to avoid the bird and crashes, or stops the car to see what they hit, the bird will pounce, carrying the confused driver away. If the bird strikes the right car, she’ll get an entire party of victims to consume at her leisure. 

If unnatural strength, vicious talons, and scheming intelligence were not enough of an advantage, they also have the ability to control the weather. They can summon thunderstorms, and use the confusion caused by the storm as the opportune time to strike. 

If you hear the cry of a whistling Lechuza and live to tell the tale, don’t consider yourself lucky just yet. A Lechuza encounter you manage to survive is an omen for misfortunes to come. 

La Lechuza

Protecting Yourself Against La Lechuza

While it’s impossible to escape a Lechuza encounter completely unscathed or uncursed, there are ways to increase your chances of survival.

First, don’t try to shoot it. They have immunity to bullets, and some believe they have complete immortality, rendering bullets useless anyway. In some accounts, shooting a Lechuza can actually end up killing the shooter instead.

lechuza myth

If you’re a fan of Supernatural, you can probably guess what you need to use. The friend to every demon hunter: salt. They fear salt, and carrying some on your person that you can weaponize if necessary can protect you from getting carried off.

You can also repel them by cursing and screaming at them. Cussing at her will probably cause her to leave. You need to start as soon as you hear their whistles or false baby cries. 

And if you hear a baby crying in the middle of the night in an abandoned locale? Don’t go looking for it. In the best case, it’s a fox in heat, at worst, you’ll get carried off as Lechuza lunch.

lechuza myth

Films Featuring the Legend of La Lechuza

While not as popular as La Llorona in Hollywood films, the Lechuza has a few films of her own. 

In Curse of the Lechusa (spelled differently from the traditional spelling), a detective from San Antonio goes to West Texas to investigate a confiscated drug shipment. At the same time, a young girl and her sister unleash the curse of la Lechuza from an old spellbook. 

Perhaps after the premiere of The Curse of La Llorona in 2019 as a part of The Conjuring saga, more Hollywood directors will source horror film plots from Mexican legends. We’ll just have to see if La Lechuza gets her big break.

Until then… here are a few scary Lechuza tales to hold you over!


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    1. Same here! I was obsessed with Supernatural but never dove super deep into some of the weirder paranormal entities they featured – so I’m super glad Sarah was game for this piece!

  1. Its not a myth, don’t kid yourself. This bird and bruja is real, myself and my family living in Texas has seen the numerous of times. But, what we heard was the calling of someone’s name, and hooting. A person who knows a real Mexican witch, will hire one when they feel they are crossed in love, contracted to kill the one who cheated or left them. Be careful, this is the stuff made if nightmared; But, very true they exist. I have stories.

    1. I’m a native Texan my 97 year old great aunt is from Mexico and she has seen the Lechuza but it can’t get to me because I’m protected by prayer and my cats

  2. I saw it in San Diego it was inside a tall tree and it showed itself when it heard I was close or saw me, it was pretty ugly it had a human body and it was pale white with the face of a monster and it threw something white at my pants it looked similar to bird poop but it wasnt then I think it laughed and flew away and when it was far enough it looked like a really big white owl, this was almost 2 yrs ago