Sharen Heath’s crow house is a head-turner on First Street in Langley. (Quinn Brown)

Sharen Heath’s crow house is a head-turner on First Street in Langley. (Quinn Brown)

She’s the curator of 200 crows at the goth house in Langley

Sharen Heath’s First Street home is an artsy haven for birds — and a year-round head-turner.

LANGLEY — The brown house on First Street is a sidewalk sideshow, even for Langley.

The windows are dark. Giant metal crows tower over a front yard of foliage and small boulders. A brown banner reads “RESIST” in white letters.

Makes you wonder about the goths who must live there.

It’s not like you could go knock on the door to find out — because there’s no front door.

What’s up with that?

Wonder no more.

The woman of the foreboding house is a bubbly 74-year-old with curly silver hair and bright red glasses.

Sharen Heath is the curator of the crows.

“I tried having the showpiece house when we first moved here,” Heath said. “There wasn’t as much satisfaction in that.”

She and her husband, Simon Frazer, moved to Whidbey Island 20 years ago and built a big house on the waterfront, where the crows were backyard art. The couple put the crows in the front yard when they later moved down the street to this smaller Craftsman home near the downtown square.

“It’s an upside-down, backwards house,” Heath said.

Sharen Heath stands in front of the crow painting that sparked her obsession to collect birds in various forms and put some giant ones in the front yard of her Langley home. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

Sharen Heath stands in front of the crow painting that sparked her obsession to collect birds in various forms and put some giant ones in the front yard of her Langley home. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

“Frank Lloyd Wright said a house should contain some mystery to it. The front entrance is in the back.”

Getting there entails walking up side steps and navigating a tall, paneled gate to a long side path and deck.

“Wait until you see the inside,” Heath said.

Move over, Alfred Hitchcock. Inside are about 200 crows and ravens in various forms on walls, tables and shelves.

Crows live in a group called a murder. A group of ravens is called a congress or unkindness. In her house, it’s an artsy hoard.

“I’m a thrift-store slut,” Heath said. “I don’t know when to stop. I’m a clutterer and it gives me some feeling of security and comfort.”

She also collects non-bird things. She has hundreds of books, enamel pieces and red-and-black plaid buffalo items.

She said the bird bent started with a purchase at a fundraiser of an acrylic painting of crows by Laura Hudson, the daughter of Georgia Gerber, whose works include the famous bronze Rachel the Pig at Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The artist duo live in Clinton. Who knew?

Heath bought the painting at a Langley fundraiser and found herself craving more crows.

Metal crows by Langley artist Tim Leonard are in front of Sharen Heath’s home. (Quinn Brown)

Metal crows by Langley artist Tim Leonard are in front of Sharen Heath’s home. (Quinn Brown)

“You have one piece of crow artwork, then you get a second piece and by the third piece you’re down the dark hole of a collection,” she said. “Once you start with a crow collection, they find you. For instance, at Good Cheer (Thrift Store) there was a pillow with a crow. It might as well have screamed ‘Sharen.’”

The yard crows were handmade by Tim Leonard, a Whidbey artist known for neon signs around Langley and metal fabrications.

“I made several more, but nothing like she has. I thought about going into production but I didn’t want to take away the soul of it all,” Leonard said.

Langley is a haven for interesting characters as well as crows. Like the rabbits, they hang around the streets, mingling with tourists.

Heath likes the anthropomorphic aspect of crows.

“They walk like human beings. They don’t hop like other birds. They put right foot, then left foot, then right foot. They’re just human beings in crow costumes,” she said.

Sometimes the birds get a dinner invite. “I feed them dry dog kibble. It’s good for them and high in protein and fats.”

It’s also what she feeds the trio of energetic terrier-mix dogs that scurry about.

She and Simon previously lived in Laguna Beach, California. A newspaper story led them to visit here 20 years ago.

“I opened the L.A. Times travel section and there was this full page article about Langley on Whidbey Island,” she said.

Like the crows, the town spoke to her.

“Langley is a quirky, funky, frayed-at-the-edges oddball kind of community,” she said. “It’s why I love Langley.”

She runs the Facebook page “I Love Langley.” It’s an independent venture, not connected with town promotions. The page has 4,818 followers. The population of Langley is 1,127.

Heath’s neighbor of six years, Shirley Jantz,, a reiki healer, often sees people stop by and point at the crow house.

Is she embarrassed by living next to the “crazy crow lady?” (Those are Heath’s words.)

“Not at all,” Jantz said. “I talk to them, and all the other birds.”

Heath said most people tell her they like her house — to her face, at least.

“If somebody thought this was really wacko, they’re really not going to say anything, are they?” Heath said.

Andrea Brown:; 425-339-3443. Twitter @reporterbrown.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Caption: South Whidbey High School students Annie Philp, left, and Maggie Nattress lead a climate change demonstration in Freeland on Nov. 29, 2019. The two friends are founders of United Student Leaders. (Linda LaMar)
From worriers to warriors, they’re fighting climate change

Local environmental groups are forming, growing and attracting new members, young and old.

Norton Playfield, a three-acre play field owned by Housing Hope on Thursday, July 23, 2020 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Vote nears on Housing Hope’s Everett playfield project

The Everett City Council will deliberate Wednesday on the multi-family, supportive housing proposal.

Man shot while pumping gas in Everett

A man in his mid-40s refused another’s demand for his wallet. The victim was hospitalized.

Scott Eastman
Acting Mill Creek police chief’s layoff came with $24k payout

The city admitted no fault in its agreement with Scott Eastman, who wasn’t picked as permanent chief.

Two teens shot near Mill Creek, taken to hospitals

The males, 17 and 18, were in a vehicle when two males approached and got into an altercation.

Pedestrian seriously injured in hit-and-run in Everett

He was expected to survive. A 31-year-old woman was later booked into jail as a suspect.

Driver hits, critically injures pedestrian in Everett

A driver hit a male who ran across the road Saturday night but stayed there and spoke with police.

The Arlington City Council will discuss asking voters to consider annexing its fire department to North County Fire & EMS. (North County Fire)
Arlington and North County Fire to consider annexation

If the Arlington City Council decides to move forward, voters would make the final decision.

People in dinosaur costumes greet each other during Downtown Trick-or-Treating on Oct. 31, 2019 in Everett, Wash. Health officials have discouraged trick-or-treating this year. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Halloween cloaked in caution, trick-or-treating discouraged

As Snohomish Health District offers tips for safer fun, some still plan to hand out candy to kids.

Most Read