Clean-up crew takes over bird hoarder house | 325 birds removed from hoarder's house

October 26, 2012 (AURORA, Ill.)

Skeberdis, who has been hoarding birds for years, had been trying to clear out the home on his own. When the cleaning was not completed by the court-ordered deadline of Friday at 10 a.m., a private contractor hired by the city intervened and completed the job Friday evening.

Workers went into the house in Hazmat suits and placed a tarp over the front door. They hauled out piles of trash so they could clear pathways inside.

One by one, the birds were caught and put in cages after they were discovered flying freely inside the home.

"There are several cages within the residence scattered about. However, there are no birds being held in those cages. The doors are open," said John Lehman, Aurora Fire Department.

The work done by seven cleanup crews was slowed by the sheer amount of garbage in the house.

"Debris in the stairwells is approximately three feet deep. And it is packed solid," said Lehman.

Officials say parakeets, cockatiels, conures, canaries, doves and finches were found in the townhouse and some may have lived in the house with resident Skeberdis for years.

On Friday morning, ABC7 found Skeberdis removing bags of trash.

"A week ago I was crying. And every day, I went in and fed them, but then I realized I really care about them. I want them to have a better life," said Skeberdis.

"He told us he was spending the night caging up birds, and when we arrived at nine o'clock to pick up the birds, he hadn't really begun to capture any of the birds," said Barbara Morris, Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club.

Skeberdis had hoped to remove the birds himself and avoid what could be a more than $13,000 bill from the city, which obtained the court order.

"I really can't afford it. During the summer, I had so little money my power got turned off for a while," said Skeberdis.

"As far as bills go, we'll worry about settling up at a later point. But right now the most important thing is to secure the health of the neighborhood," said Lehman.

The birds are now being evaluated by the Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club.

"I must say that they are in remarkably good shape," said Morris.

The Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club is asking for donations to make room for the birds.

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