“At night in South Texas, especially under a big moon, things start moving.

Deer begin grazing, coarse-haired feral hogs emerge from the brush to steal corn from game feeders on the big ranches, five-foot rattlesnakes slide from their lair, the sensors on their arrowhead-shaped heads looking for warm meat. And sometimes, an owl spreads its wide wings and flies from its roost looking for prey.

But some people along the border believe that owls are more than big-eyed night feeders. Among that group are three Zavala County women who vividly remember an experience they had one night on their way home from a shopping trip to San Antonio.

Just outside Batesville on State Highway 57, a large, dark and menacing bird suddenly appeared in the headlights of their car. The bird flew ahead of them faster than the vehicle, swinging back and forth and bobbing up and down.

The woman behind the wheel pressed her foot on the gas to outdistance the bird, which at one point circled back to fly right outside the driver’s window. The bird seemed to be mocking the women, but this was no mockingbird.

That’s when the car went dead. The lights went dark and the vehicle stalled, slowly losing speed. The driver managed to get the car off the roadway but could not restart it. The women locked themselves in the car, stuck out in the middle of nowhere. The bird, meanwhile, had disappeared.

As mysteriously as it had died, the car eventually restarted. Sure, it could have been a loose battery wire, or any number of easy-explainable mechanical things. But as far as these three women were concerned, the answer could be articulated in one word: lechuza.

Since Spanish colonial times, generations of children in South Texas and across the river in Mexico have grown up hearing stories of lechuzas. Despite that, an internet search shows that the tradition is mostly oral.

“A lot of people believe in lechuza,” says Zavala County historian and newspaper columnist Richard G. Santos. Fascinated by stories like the one told by the three women whose shopping trip ended scarily, Santos has been collecting them for several years.

A couple who for obvious reasons did not want to be named told the Crystal City writer this story:

They were on State Highway 191, headed toward Eagle Pass, when their vehicle’s windshield wipers suddenly came on.

“It must be a lechuza,” said the woman’s husband, who reached over and turned off the wipers.

As he did that, the headlights of their vehicle illuminated a big bird sitting on a telephone pole.

“It was big and it watched us as we drove by,” one of them told Santos. “It was scary.”

Indeed, lechuzas have been scaring people in Mexico and South Texas for a long time.


According to Santos, lechuzas are witches – brujas – who transform themselves into birds. In most stories, the bird is an owl, but sometimes a bruja will turn into an eagle.

Another school of thought holds that not all lechuzas are brujas. Some are merely the spirits of women annoyed for a specific reason, a faithless husband or a widower who has remarried.

Those frightened by the appearances of a lechuza can fall back on four basic remedies: Prayer, tying seven knots in a string or rope, engaging the services of a curandera or blasting the bird with a shotgun or rifle.

One man told Santos he had heard as a boy about a lechuza being shot. No one could find the dead bird, but the next morning, someone discovered the body of a very unattractive, mature woman hanging across a tree branch. Needless to say, many saw a connection between the killing of the lechuza and the corpse.

Santos, a serious historian who moved to Crystal City from San Antonio to care for his elderly parents, says he does not believe in ghosts or witches. But he definitely believes in stories of ghosts and witches.

He has found that lechuzas are particularly active in Zavala County.

A lechuza can appear at any time, but these feathery witches seem particularly prone to spread their wings and terrorize those who have popped a top or two or three. Cars moving down lonely highways also seem a favorite target of lechuzas.

Fortunately, as they say on the border, “Las lechuzas, por regular, no son peligrosas.” They are not dangerous. Normally.”

By Mike Cox

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12 Comments on “La Lechuza”

  1. I have seen something like this but I am afraid to sound crazy it had horns like a baby goat green emerald like eyes it stood a little over 3 foot tall each wing was 5 ft 6 in it didn’t have feathers on its feet it’s lower body and feet seemed to be covered in fur like a dog , as I layed on my tail gate and I took pictures and my son in law helped me measure I went inside the house for something to find my daughter son in law my son screaming and running to get inside I ran to my pick up and it was gone they calmed down and said another bird-like creature bigger that the one on my tailgate had come straight down picked it up and flew off with it my son said mom it had a face like people , I showed the pictures to ppl at work no one could tell me what it was . It flew down Infront of me coming home crossing the tracks in Blum tx and disappeared from my home in Whitney Texas . The kids all said it sounded like a woman screaming while it was flying down

  2. Was this at night? And were you on drug? Possibly to much car fumes…what happened to your son? And did you graduate high school because your grammar is atrocious. These are my questions , you have a nice day.

    1. It’s south Texas. OF COURSE they didn’t graduate high school. People from south Texas are poor, uneducated, and into weird religious shit.

      1. Ah, I believe what you mean to say is that you are close minded, entitled people who live in a little, perfect fantasy world to protect yourselves from what’s actually out there. (: That’s okay though. You’re lucky not to go through such frightening things. I hope one day you do. Also, it’s true that some of us have not yet graduated high school, but that doesn’t mean we’re uneducated. We have knowledge of what actually matters in the world. We have survival skills. REAL survival skills. We live in the same world but different parts have different circumstances. You wouldn’t understand unless you experience it first hand. Come to South Texas and tell anyone this shit to their faces. You’ll see wussup if you try.

  3. Oh strange small small small virtual world…if anyone could find Blum on a map hahaha much less in real life…I had the honor..(.not) of living there most of my life and my parent’s are from there….uhmmm so there is the story of goatman at old foamy, but in truth that man lived on down the tracks…once you get to where you saw that thing….if you go right, right before the tracks….and keep driving it will take you down to this man house, all kind of different cars out there…and a well…not to mention the old graveyard from 1800 in hill country right there 20 miles away. Sightings of a hoofed shadow, but nobody has seen a full on corpse of it, just heard growling, I caught some on facebook live but they deleted my video… when I asked why they just sent an auto response saying they are working on the problem….its a private graveyard, I have a few family members buried there as well. I heard kids laughing and music, but on the video all you could hear is high pitched tones when I say do you hear that? Not to mention what brought me to this sight is research for my book Im polishing up about my boyfriend from Cleburne who died and it was never looked into…Well until now….so I needed a little more info on the lechuza, I heard it comes after pregnant women and children. If you see one you are to call it every name in the book to make it go away and yes you can pray while doing so, AND DO NOT whistle at it, or it will haunt you on your death bed laughing and taunting you as you die! muhahahaha enjoy haunted tejas!!!

  4. Greetings, I think that you may have seen a chupacabra but then it morphed into a bird the thing is la lechuza is a shape shifting witch so this is strange it defys my laws of lore and legend if you see more of this please contact my phone number (626)-372-2244

  5. What I’m about to tell you will sound incredibly strange.

    My common law wife is a Mexican witch and turns into a lechuza. She also puts hexes on people, though I’ve made her stop most of this.
    She has caused people to have serious car accidents too.
    I sort of interviewed her about the transformation and other questions about it. She states that first she has to remove all her clothes. She also says she doesn’t like to transform because her whole body aches afterward.
    I leave sometimes on a bicycle, and there is indeed often a white owl that seems to be trailing me. I lived in this city for 15 years before I met her, and I never saw those owls in the city. Now I see them frequently,in bizarre, unlikely places, but particularly on nights when we have a fight and I leave.
    When I go for my outdoor exercises at night, I’ll even asker her to please, please don’t follow me (in the air) because it’s invading my privacy.
    When I took a vacation on the other side of the country where my mom is, I noticed for the first time there was no presence in the air or the feeling of being watched. My wife informed me she is unable to travel that far with her powers.
    My wife is an authentic Mexican witch and Lechuza. I’m very glad she has stopped most of this involvement, though.

  6. Second Lechuza story

    My other wife I once had was once tormented by a lechuza in her home when she was there alone when she was a kid.
    She woke to hear persistent scratching on the door, she went and hid. Afterwards she peered out a window to see a large Lechuza bird staring at her from a tree branch. She said it was smaller than an average person. She said the neighborhood dogs began chasing it and harassing it. This is when my wife locked herself in her room til morning. When she woke, all the dogs from the surrounding houses lay dead, and their were claw marks on the door.
    My ex was never a bullshitter and would always give truthful accounts.

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