In Italian language, strega literally means “witch” and in Italy during the middle ages it was believed that the strega transformed into a bird at night to prey upon infants by drinking their blood.

What we know today about ancient Roman belief about the stryx (plural: striges) is from what Ovid wrote in his book Fasti. According to Ovid, the striges atttacked children at night in a form resembling that of a screech owl.

However, he was not sure whether the striges were born in owl-like form or whether they were women who supernaturally transformed into such form.

In a tale about the striges that Ovid gives, the striges create wounds upon on an infant’s chest with their beaks and talons and then drink the blood from theses wounds. The striges returned night after night to prey upon the infant until the parents appealed to the demi-goddess Crane.

Crane then appeared and went through the home performing rituals to ban the return of the striges. Her last act was to place a branch of white thorn in the window of the infant’s room.