Identical twins Bridgette and Paula Powers share a passion for looking after sick and injured sea birds, especially pelicans.
“We love them all, but our favourite bird is the pelican—we just love their big eyes,” Paula Powers told the ABC’s Australian Story in May 2021.
The passion runs so deep that these women have made a career out of it, rescuing and saving birds for over two decades.
“We worked at Australia Zoo for two years and then after that, we branched out on our own,” Bridgette Powers told the ABC.
The women launched the Twinnies Pelican and Seabird Rescue charity on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, which they’ve now run for 21 years.
“So, all along that southern Queensland coast, if there’s a bird in distress or even a turtle, the Twinnies respond,” TV vet and friend Dr. Chris Brown told the ABC. “Every single waking minute will be spent tending to that animal and they don’t really rest until the patient’s needs are taken care of.”
Until now, it’s estimated the women have rehabilitated at least 25,000 birds.
“The majority of the birds they’re seeing have been malnourished, hit by cars or hit by boats,” said Chris. “You see them hooked by [recreational] fishing lines, caught in different [recreational] fishing and crab traps.”
The Twinnies will have birds in care for weeks, months, often years.
“It’s beautiful to see them fly after they have been so sick,” the Twinnies told the ABC. “But we worry about them, and we hope people just take care of these big, beautiful birds.”
A one-tonne bait donation
The Twinnies charity is a not-for-profit organization that relies on volunteers and donations to keep its work going.
“We’re grateful for any help, because it [running the charity] becomes costly and time-consuming,” the Twinnies’ mother Helen Powers told the ABC.
To support the Twinnies, Tuna Australia, the industry body for commercial tuna longline fishing, has donated six months’ worth of bait fish to feed the birds in care.
“We’ve organised a shipment of 1 tonne of premium quality South Australian sardines from Port Lincoln, South Australia,” said Phil Ravanello, Program Manager, Tuna Australia.
“Tuna Australia members are stewards of the oceans who care deeply for the marine environment. Our aim is ecologically sustainable fishing, and we work hard to ensure we minimise our footprint on everything we do.
“This donation is to support the Twinnies who have dedicated their lives to rehabilitating injured seabirds.”
Five boxes of sardines were handed over to the Twinnies at an event on Thursday 20 May 2021 attended by Phil and Jason Hunt MP, Member for Caloundra.
“The Twinnies’ efforts and interventions have helped save the lives of hundreds and maybe thousands of birds.
I’m so pleased that Tuna Australia has come on board with a lot of sardines to help the Twinnies continue their work as animal superheroes,” said Jason.
The remaining 68 boxes of sardines were delivered to the Twinnies on Friday 28 May 2021.
‘Makes my heart happy’
The Twinnies said the bait will be used to “help the seabirds they care for.”
“It’s going to feed the pelicans, gannets and little, tiny birds as well,” they said at the handover event.
We’d like to thank Tuna Australia because no one has never ever donated that amount of fish to us before.”
News of the donation was shared by Jason Hunt and the Twinnies on their Facebook pages, drawing praise from many members of the public.
“Makes my heart happy, thank you Tuna Australia,” wrote one Facebook user.
“Absolutely wonderful gesture, Tuna Australia,” said another user.
“Such a beautiful thing to do for these two girls who work so tirelessly. Thank you all of you,” wrote another user.