Australian Story: April 19

Australian Story‘s “Birds of a Feather” profiles bird rescue twins Bridgette and Paula Powers, who have previously featured on Nine’s Inside Story in 2016 (ironically with the same  “Birds of a Feather”episode title).

A chance encounter with environmentalist Steve Irwin was a sliding doors moment for identical twins Bridgette and Paula Powers.

The sisters were struggling to save a green sea turtle they’d found marooned near their Sunshine Coast home and Irwin was called to assist.

“We had a troop carrier pull up and a guy got out,” recalls sister Liz Eather. “He put the turtle on a stretcher… and then he spotted the girls. He couldn’t take his eyes off them.”

Affectionately known as the ‘Twinnies’ to friends and family, the sisters were an unusual sight, dressing in identical clothing and often speaking in unison. But Irwin saw something else that was special about the girls – a passion for wildlife conservation.

Years later, the sisters operate a 24-hour bird rescue service from the backyard of their home. It’s a never-ending passion project and they restore birds that many others might give up on.

“They’re pros,” says their friend, celebrity vet Chris Brown. “A lot of people make the mistake of seeing them as some kind of novelty act. (But) the Twinnies perform an amazing job rehabilitating seabirds.”

The sisters have battled a lifetime of ill-health themselves but say their feathered friends keep them going. And mother Helen Powers believes the work is crucial to sustaining her daughters’ mental and physical well-being.

“The birds do give them the drive to keep going,” she says.

“We try and forget all about the health issues. We get on with life. I guess when you love something so much it’s easy,” says Paula Powers.

Producer: Rebecca Armstrong

Monday 19 April at 8pm on ABC.

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