Aurora man with nearly 500 birds guilty of animal hoarding
An Aurora man who kept more than 450 living and dead birds in his townhouse was convicted Monday of animal hoarding and cruelty charges.
David Skeberdis, 58, of the 200 block of Shadybrook Lane, pleaded guilty in DuPage County court. Judge Bruce Kelsey sentenced him to a year of probation, counseling and 50 hours of public service.
Skeberdis was charged in October 2012 after a painter visiting his home spotted several dead birds through a window and contacted the city.
Responding animal control and health officials found the townhouse filled with trash, mounds of bird feces and 478 birds, including 120 that were dead, prosecutors said.
Skeberdis declined to comment as he left court Monday. Last year, he admitted he became "obsessed" with collecting birds after taking in a rescued parakeet named Doc seven years earlier.
Skeberdis told investigators he didn't expect his feathered friends to multiply in such an "extreme" manner, Assistant State's Attorney Chris Zaruba said in court. Many of the birds died or were born with deformities as a result of inbreeding and poor living conditions. Some were caged; others were "roaming and flying freely," Zaruba said.
Zaruba said Skeberdis "realized things had gotten out of control" but took no action until the city stepped in and condemned his home. Since then, the townhouse has been cleaned and Skeberdis is once again living there. The Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club took in about 400 of the birds and put them up for adoption.
Skeberdis, who had no prior criminal history, had been scheduled for a jury trial Monday but instead pleaded guilty to companion animal hoarding, cruel treatment of animals and violation of owner's duties, all misdemeanors.
He told the judge he's been in therapy for about a year.