For one Aurora, Ill. resident, his hundreds-strong bird hoarding obsession started with a single rescued parakeet. Over the past seven years, Dave Skeberdis had been buying and rescuing birds, going through more than a hundred pounds of birdfeed each week to nourish them.
City officials discovered the flurry of birds — along with garbage and bird feces — after a painting contractor working outside Skeberdis' home noticed several dead birds and told officials, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. WGN reports officials entered the home last Wednesday after obtaining a court order.
On Monday, FOX Chicago reports, animal control and city crews were to begin cleanup of the home but were put on hold as they waited for lab results from air quality tests. Skeberdis, however, was inside, telling FOX Chicago, "The birds need to be fed, so I'm going inside and feeding them."
Skeberdis was apparently offered a hazmat suit and other gear but was "used to what's inside" and didn't plan to wear any of the protective items.
Skeberdis told the Sun-Times he comes from a family of hoarders and admitted his "obsession" had gotten out of hand. According to FOX Chicago, seven years ago, Skeberdis' mother and several other family members passed away within a matter of months. That's when he brought home the parakeet, a rescue bird the Sun-Times says he named "Doc."
With his birds, Skeberdis went through financial hardship, illness and "at least one mass death of birds," the Sun-Times details. The Aurora resident now just wants to get help and get back into his home. He tells FOX Chicago, "The whole thing that's nice about Aurora that they're taking an attitude that they want to help me, they don't want to judge me, they just want to help me get out of this mess…and it is a mess, it is an obsession."
As the Mayo Clinic's defines it, hoarding:
"[...] often creates such cramped living conditions that homes may be filled to capacity, with only narrow pathways winding through stacks of clutter. Some people also collect animals, keeping dozens or hundreds of pets often in unsanitary conditions."
Currently, hoarding isn't considered an official psychiatric disorder, though that classification may change as early as May of next year.