The Stymphalian Birds

The sixth of the Twelve Labors of Heracles.

The Stymphalian Birds were an innumerable swarm of voracious birds, the daughters of Stymphalus and Ornis. They had brazen claws, wings, and beaks, used their feathers as arrows, and ate human flesh. They had been brought up by Ares, and were so numerous, that with their secretions and feathers they killed men and beasts, and covered whole fields and meadows. From fear of the wolves, these birds had taken refuge in a lake near Stymphalus, from which Heracles was ordered by Eurystheus to expel them.

When Heracles undertook the task, Athena provided him with a brazen rattle, by the noise of which he startled the birds, and, as they attempted to fly away, he killed them with his arrows. According to some accounts, he did not kill the birds, but only drove them away, and afterwards they appeared again in the island of Aretias, whither they had fled, and where they were found by the Argonauts.

Previous labor: The Augean Stables.
Next labor: The Cretan Bull.



  • Apollonius Rhodius. Argonautica ii, 1037, with the Scholiast.
  • Hyginus. Fabulae, 30.
  • Pausanias. Description of Greece viii, 22.4 ff.
  • Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 5.6.
  • Servius on Virgil's Aeneid viii, 300.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.