Updated 10/25/12 – 12:18 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — An Aurora homeowner has been working all night, racing the clock to clean up his home, after local officials declared it a nuisance because of the huge mess inside, when they found as many as 300 birds flying around inside the home.
CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports 57-year-old David Skeberdis has been working through the night, trying to remove the birds from his home before the city steps in.
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.
Skeberdis claimed there are only 80 to 100 birds in his home, but officials said they discovered as many as 300 birds inside – none of them in cages. Aurora officials also said there are piles of junk throughout the house, and bird feed and bird droppings are spread everywhere.
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At first, city officials planned to send private contractors into the house to clear a path and remove the birds, but Skeberdis changed his mind Tuesday about letting anyone in his home to remove the birds. He decided to do it himself.
“I’ve got a real, real, real mess in here; and I really don’t want folks to see it,” Skeberdis said overnight. “The thing is, I love them, but I let it get out of hand. I mean, I can’t go back, and … I can’t start regretting, because I’ll be up all night.”
Early Thursday morning, he was already clearly feeling the pressure.
“It feels good to get them out of harm’s way,” Skeberdis said. “The thing is, the tension in my mind is whether I’m going to be able to make the deadline; I mean, with the media, and everything, and trying to get a lot of other things done,” Skeberdis said.
Though Skeberdis plans to remove the birds on his own, Aurora city officials have obtained a court order allowing them to send in crews to remove the birds. They plan to do just that at 10 a.m. Friday if Skeberdis has not done so by then.
Skeberdis said he didn’t want the city to send in private contractors to clear a path so they could remove the birds, because he would have been billed more than $13,000 for the removal work.
He said he figures the total cleanup costs would be much higher.
“You can estimate that the cleaning bill would be at least $60,000, maybe $100,000,” Skeberdis said.
He said some of the birds are like puppies or kittens to him. A couple even sleep on his neck at night.
“They’re almost like children,” he said. “They actually talk when they want fresh water. ‘Fresh water.’ ‘Food.’ ‘Different food.’ I mean, they actually, they’ve got intelligence. They live 30 to 60 years,” he said.
Skeberdis has been working practically all night to get the birds into cages and out of the house.
“I’m hoping I can get it done by Friday, but I’m not sure. I wish I could get an extension,” he said.
City officials said that won’t happen, and if he doesn’t get the birds out by Friday’s deadline, they will step in, and bill him for any expenses.
Skeberdis was working through much of the night to catch and cage the birds in his home, and clear a path inside in case he can’t finish the job in time, and city officials send in contractors to remove the rest of the birds.
However, after the sun came up, he wasn’t seen outside the house, after frantically cleaning and caging birds throughout the night.
He said he started out with eight small birds several years ago, and they multiplied.
“They’ve got to be let out once in a while, and yeah they poop on things, and yeah my place got really bad,” he said.
Aurora officials declared his house a nuisance property, saying there’s a potentially hazardous mold problem which makes it unsafe for anyone to live in the house. Officials said air tests found mold levels as high as 15 times the normal level.
Officials have said there’s waist-high debris inside Skeberdis’ home. He said it was organized enough for him to know where everything was until officials came inside the house and knocked over some of the piles of stuff inside.
The Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club has been helping Skeberdis remove the birds by providing cages. They’ll also help find new homes for the birds.
“I’m going to have to go from one part of the house to catch them, and then go to another part, because definitely these guys are … they get wise,” Skeberdis said. “I’ve got more to catch. I hope it’s not 300, but who knows. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong.”