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Hoarder’s birds ready for adoption

Food is abundant for hundreds rescued birds thwere relocated Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club facility VillPark. | JCunningham~For Sun-Times Media

Food is abundant for the hundreds of rescued birds that were relocated to the Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club facility in Villa Park. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 6, 2013 9:53AM

VILLA PARK — The more than 300 birds rescued from an Aurora bird hoarder’s home are all healthy and have been cleared for adoption.

A 30-day quarantine period has expired and Niles-based veterinarian Peter Sakas said Tuesday that the birds are healthy and ready for adoption. About 20 birds already were adopted this week, according to Barbara Morris, spokesman for the Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club, which rescued the birds from the Aurora home and has been caring for them in a storefront operation in Villa Park.

“We’ve had lots of calls about the birds ahead of time,” Morris said.

In October, contractors employed by the city removed 325 live birds from the townhome of Dave Skeberdis in the 200 block of Shadybrook Lane on the city’s far East Side. About 120 dead birds were also removed from the home.

The live birds were turned over to the Greater Chicago Cage Bird Club.

Although the birds have been exposed to poor air quality conditions, Sakas said Tuesday that the birds are in good health. Random testing of the birds confirmed they did not carry diseases, but a few were treated for runny noses, Sakas said.

Of the 325 birds that were turned over to the bird club, only one canary died, he said.

Morris said the population of birds at the Villa Park facility has grown, as the bird club absorbed more birds from a McHenry County bird hoarder and a few dozen cockatiels from a bird breeder who fell ill and was no longer able to care for the birds. At the peak, there were 428 birds at the facility, said bird club volunteer Alice Blayney of Villa Park.

In addition to adoptions, some of the parakeets may end up in an exhibit in a small zoo in Indiana, Morris said. Bigger birds brought in from the McHenry County home will eventually be transferred into foster homes.

Ernest Ferguson traveled from his Bensenville home to pick up two cockatiels in a cardboard box Tuesday. He said he has raised birds for more than 25 years.
When Ferguson heard about the Aurora bird hoarding incident, “it kind of got my heart beating,” he said.

Sakas praised the bird club volunteers for caring for their work during the last month.

“They’ve taken the time to come out here and treat these birds — it’s very admirable,” Sakas said. “They care for their well being and it’s easy to work together as a team.”

Adoption rules

The bird club is limiting the number of birds that people can take home, in an effort to avoid a future bird hoarding situation, Morris said.

The bird club is allowing people to adopt up to four “budgies” — also known as parakeets — or one cockatiel and two parakeets, or two cockatiels, or one larger bird. Adopting a large bird will require a home visit.

The bird adoption fee ranges from $10 for parakeets to $300 for a cockatoo or macaw.

Adoption hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 15 W. Park Blvd., Suite 3, in Villa Park. For appointments, call 630-640-4924.

On Tuesday, a few cages in the corner of the storefront read: “not up for adoption.” Morris said the bird club is holding about eight conures for Skeberdis, but a judge will ultimately decide if he will be able to own the birds again.

Blayney said Skeberdis has been in several times to visit the birds.

“The court will decide that,” Morris said. “(Until then), we’re babysitting for free.”

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