Aurora bird hoarder reflects on frenzy
By Stephanie Lulay firstname.lastname@example.org December 25, 2012 8:32PM
Dave Skeberdis speaks with the media about his hoard of birds and his efforts to clean his residence on Aurora's east side on Wednesday, October 24, 2012. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 27, 2013 6:15AM
Even his niece in the Philippines saw his name in the news.
Aurora’s at one time self-professed bird hoarder Dave Skeberdis, 57, made national news in October when crews removed 325 live birds and 120 dead birds from his townhome in the 200 block of Shady Lane.
But since the media frenzy has calmed and the news trucks has moved on, he’s backed away from the hoarder title.
“Let’s put it this way — a lot of people have an obsession. I’m a clutter bug. I didn’t even know what hoarder meant,” he said. “I have an obsession with keeping stuff and I definitely want to change.”
Earlier this month, Skeberdis pleaded not guilty to animal hoarding charges. At the hearing, DuPage County prosecutors contended that he still has about a dozen birds in his home.
Skeberdis said he does not have birds living with him in his hotel room, and deferred other questions about the case to his lawyer.
Upon reflection, Skeberdis said he felt misunderstood by the public.
“I never meant to have any bird fatalities in my (home),” he said. “I’ve been really surprised that people are so interested in this.”
But the whirlwind incident has taught him some lessons, too.
“You can always count on your family. This (experience) reminded me that we do all have family that we can count on to help,” he said.
After spending Christmas with his family in Michigan, relatives will come back to Aurora with Skeberdis to help him clean his condemned Aurora townhome. His family has also helped him out financially so he can stay in a monthly rate hotel room for now.
But there’s one thing he would not have this Christmas — his birds. The Chicago Area Cage Bird Club has been caring for the birds and coordinating their adoptions from a Villa Park storefront.
“It’s always like someone’s died in my life ... but it’s worse than death because there are people who think I’m a horrible person,” he said.
Still, he greatly appreciated the rescue group’s help.
“Their intentions are very good and they are very good people,” he said of the volunteers.
Although the plan was for the bird rescue group to keep eight of Skeberdis’ conures until he was prepared to take them back, Skeberdis said he is now feeling more pressure to sign over all of the birds to the group.
“I think they’ve grown attached to my birds,” he said of the volunteers of the Chicago Area Cage Bird Club.
Is he resisting signing those rights over?
“I don’t know if I’m resisting. What would you do if you had children... would you sign them over?” he said. “It’s the feeling of, kind of like, wow. Which ones do I want to give away? Basically I cry when I think about losing them.”
Skeberdis said keeping two to four of his conures seems reasonable, but he’s sure he could care for all eight. Nine seems like too many, he said.
“If I could only keep two — the sun conure Sweetheart and her mate, Falcon,” he said.