In Greek mythology, the Stymphalian birds (Greek: Στυμφαλίδες ὄρνιθες, Stymphalídes órnithes) were man-eating birds with beaks of bronze and sharp metallic feathers they could launch at their victims, and were sacred to Ares, the god of war. Furthermore, their dung was highly toxic. They had migrated to Lake Stymphalia in Arcadia to escape a pack of wolves the Arabs set loose to kill them, and bred quickly and took over the countryside, destroying local crops, fruit trees and townspeople.
The Sixth Labour of Heracles
After Heracles had cleaned the Augean Stables, Eurystheus sent him to defeat the Stymphalian Birds. Heracles could not go too far into the swamp, for it would not support his weight. Athena, noticing the hero's plight, gave Heracles a rattle which Hephaestus had made for the occasion. Heracles shook the rattle and frightened the birds into the air. Heracles then shot many of them with his arrows. The rest flew far away, never to return.
Heracles brought some of the birds he had killed to Eurystheus and was given the next task of capturing the Cretan Bull.
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