For Sale: Fishy House

You know what helps sell a home quickly? The smell of fish and a 4-foot-tall wild bird in the basement.

This is another crazy animal tale my father reminded me needed to be on the blog.

When my parents were selling their first home 26ish years ago, a vet asked my mom to help rehabilitate a great blue heron that had flown into some electric wires and had to have part of his wing amputated. This was not mom’s first wildlife rehab. We had recently rehabilitated a squirrel and had had other odd wild animals. We weren’t living in the country yet. Mom was doing this in our 1,400 square foot home on a small lot in a small residential neighborhood well within city limits. By the way, abandoned infant squirrels are possibly the hardest wild animals to keep alive. It almost never works out, even with a vet heavily involved in the process.

Anyway, my mom jumped at the opportunity to take care of the great blue heron. Of course she had to say yes to the giant, bizarre wild bird. How could she not?

Because her house was FOR SALE. That’s how.



She named the bird Chumley and gated off a portion of the basement that she filled with shavings. At first, Chumley ate a steady diet of smelt, which of course stunk up the house. Later, Chumley’s health started to fail him more and they had to switch to live bait to keep him interested in food. My mom kept buckets of water in the basement full of live fish she got from a bait shop.

Meanwhile, realtors were showing our stinky house to perspective buyers only to have a big reveal of a 4-foot bird on pine shavings in our basement. Keep in mind that whenever we had a house showing, we quickly loaded the cats and dogs into the car so the perspective buyers wouldn’t see THEM, but we left the 4-foot wild bird in our basement.

Can you imagine walking through a realtor’s tour only to discover a 4-foot wild bird on pine shavings in the basement?


My mother’s father to my father: “You can’t let her do this! You have to put your foot down! You have to stop her!”

My dad still isn’t sure where my grandfather got the idea that my dad had any say in any of the animal madness decisions, or that he was in any way the boss of my mom.

I’m not sure how long this all went on, but it was pretty crazy. I was only six, but I remember standing a safe distance from the bird who towered over me. He was very strange.

Unfortunately, the Chumley didn’t end up making it, so jeopardizing the sale of our house was all for nothing.

And the house DID sell eventually after we got the bird and the fish out of there. AND we later successfully rehabilitated another big bird like a great blue heron, but we can’t remember if it WAS a great blue heron. This was after we sold the “city” house were living in the country.

Next Thursday, I’ll talk about the business of breeding parrots.



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4 Responses to For Sale: Fishy House

  1. nonni

    Do you remember Rocky the squirrel? We rehabbed and raised him in our old house. After we let him go in our back yard he use to jump out of the trees and land on our backs. He disappeared to hibernate the first winter but in the spring he appeared again and was just as friendly as ever. He liked to hang with Mischief.

  2. Poppy

    And then there was the goldfish you won when you were four. We had him in a tiny fish bowl and Mom was furious at me for having you play a game in which you could win a fish that she would have to take care of. Her response was to go buy a hexagon fish tank so we would have more fish. This was my birthday/anniversary present. We did eventually get rid of the tank because fish have a way of dying in droves.

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