Aurora prepares to move birds
By stephanie Lulay email@example.com October 24, 2012 11:50AM
David Skeberdis shakes hands with Diane Federl of the Greater Chicago Caged Bird Club after she dropped off cages for Skeberdis to use to try to remove birds from his Aurora home in October. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 26, 2012 7:11AM
AURORA — The city will have crews out cleaning up a bird hoarder’s home on the far East Side on Friday, unless the homeowner gets the property cleared out first.
On Wednesday evening, the city served bird hoarder Dave Skeberdis with an order from the Kane County Circuit Court authorizing the city to collect the estimated 200 to 300 birds from the home.
Although Skeberdis’ townhouse on the 200 block of Shadybrook Lane is in the DuPage County portion of Aurora, city officials said it is common practice to file court requests with the county where the primarily municipal offices are located, which for Aurora is Kane County.
The city said it intends to start the process of removing the birds from Skeberdis’ home starting at 10 a.m. Friday, unless all the birds have been removed by then.
Skeberdis has been cited with two property maintenance code violations and for violations involving four sections of the city’s ordinance dealing with care and control of animals. The property also has been declared a nuisance, city officials said.
Any potential penalties or fines will be assessed when the investigation has been completed. Aurora’s city code allows clean-up and bird recovery fees to be passed on to the homeowner.
City officials said Wednesday that air quality tests done on neighboring townhomes confirmed those homes were safe for habitation. Air quality tests on samples taken from the bird hoarder’s home confirmed the home is not suitable for habitation, with mold counts ranging from twice to 15 times higher than normal outdoor readings.
Skeberdis met with City Attorney Alayne Weingartz late Tuesday but refused to sign papers that he said would have made him responsible for a $13,478 cleanup bill.
“He wants to take care of it himself,” Weingartz said.
Skeberdis said signing the papers would have made him legally responsible for the entire cleanup and that the city could put a lien on his home if he did not eventually pay up.
“That’s a lot of money and I don’t have it,” Skeberdis said.
Skeberdis said he is now contacting lawyers who may be willing to represent him for free.
“I think everybody is a bit of a hoarder, but this got out of control,” he said. “I’ve got civil rights, too, and I don’t need someone strong-arming me to get someone to clean it.”
Group delivers cages
Also on Wednesday, volunteers with the Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club rescue group were at the home, delivering about a dozen cages for transporting the birds.
Diana Federl, with the bird rescue group, said they will be back Friday morning to pick up all of the birds.
Skeberdis said he has signed over all of the birds to the volunteer rescue group. He has caged about a dozen of the birds inside the home so far.
The exact number of birds inside the home remains unknown. Firefighters have only entered the home once, said Rosario DeLeon, city chief operations officer.
On Wednesday, city officials estimated the birds at about 300, but Skeberdis said the number is much closer to 80. On Monday, he said 200 birds were in the home.
Skeberdis said he does not know how many dead birds are inside. He also said the birds may face health problems from being inbred.
“(But) they could (also) be very healthy,” Federl said.
After the birds are moved out of the house, they will be moved to a storefront the bird rescue group has rented in Villa Park. The birds will be quarantined for 30 to 60 days.
Neighbor: ‘It’s shocking’
According to the bird rescue group’s website, the fire department will set up a tent at the back door of the townhouse, and only licensed hazmat crews will be allowed in the townhome unit. The bird group volunteers will send empty cages inside with the crews.
Skeberdis said he did feel bad he “was putting neighbors in possible danger.”
“It’s kind of creepy,” said neighbor Barbara Kaufhold, who has lived in Shadybrook Lane for 13 years. “It’s shocking. It also makes you mad. It could bring down all of our property values.”