First birds removed from hoarder’s home
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org October 26, 2012 6:50PM
Dave Skeberdis brings the first of his birds out for the people of the Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club to take to their storefront in Villa Park on Friday, October 26, 2012. | Brian Powers~Sun-Times Media
Updated: December 26, 2012 1:25AM
AURORA — By 3 p.m. Friday, more than 200 live birds had been removed from the Aurora townhouse where a man hoarded hundreds of birds.
The city served bird hoarder Dave Skeberdis, 57, with a court order authorizing the city to collect the estimated 300 birds from his townhouse in the 200 block of Shadybrook Lane.
The first bird was removed from the house shortly after 9 a.m. By 3 p.m., 249 live birds had been removed, according to the Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club.
The city’s contractor, Restoration Techs, entered the home at 10 a.m. Friday. Crews were in full-body hazmat suits, rubber boots and masks. Deputy Fire Chief John Lehman said the length of time that it could take for crews to remove the birds has not been determined.
“I think it would be a monumental task to get it completed in a few hours,” he said.
Crews covered the front entrance of the home with a black tarp. The contractor has air scrubbers working in the home. Debris will be moved around in the home but not removed, according to Lehman. The operation at the home will be ongoing until all of the birds have been removed safely. Lehman said the crew is committed to working “around the clock.”
“It appears there has been little movement to the second floor or the basement,” Lehman said, adding that debris in the stairwells is three-feet deep and packed tightly.
Lehman said the highest concentration of birds is in the basement. Crews will try to remove the birds from the second floor first.
“It’s really difficult to count, as you can imagine,” Lehman said. “They’re flying all over the place.”
City officials confirmed that the electricity and heat are functioning in the townhouse, and hundreds of birds are alive inside. According to city officials, Skeberdis was cooperative Friday, and has chosen not to be present during the removal process.
“I’m sure it’s a very emotional process for him,” Lehman said.
Members of the Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club were assisting with the collection of the birds. The birds will be brought to a storefront at 19 W. Park in Villa Park, where they will be quarantined for 30-60 days, said Barbara Morris, bird club spokesman.
“It’s not a case of cruelty. It’s a case of too much love,” she said.
Morris said the bird club has promised Skeberdis they will not adopt out his conures, which he said are like his children. The club will work with Skeberdis to allow him to keep those six to eight birds.
“We hope that through counseling that his problems will be addressed,” Morris said.
City crews were called to the home last week after a painting contractor working outside the home noticed several dead birds inside and called police. Aurora Animal Control and city inspectors deemed the property unfit for habitation, contacted the homeowner and received a search warrant for the property.
Skeberdis, employed in the information technology field, said he can now understand that his bird collecting is out of control. He said he is from a family of hoarders.
“I think it’s time for a change in my life,” Skeberdis said earlier this week.
Skeberdis, who is not married, acquired his first bird seven years ago. While working in computer support at United Airlines, he “rescued” a parakeet, and later named the bird “Doc.”
“I saved his life, and he saved mine,” Skeberdis said.
Over time, he bought and adopted more birds.
“We want to bring closure to this incident as safely and expediently as possible,” Lehman said from the scene Friday.
The Chicago Cage Bird Club is looking for donations to help care for the birds. More information about how to donate is available on their website, www.gccbc.org.