The pair of Canada geese has made the Tides their home since 2011.
By CHARLEE GLOCK-JACKSON
FOR GIG HARBOR LIFE
For the past five years, a pair of Canada geese has claimed a spot near Gig Harbor’s Tides Tavern as a good place for to build a nest.
Tides’ staff has named the geese Stella and Mac, after two of the many beers on tap at the restaurant: Stella Artois and Mac & Jack.
Sometimes the geese have nested in planter barrels on the deck, sometimes on one of the nearby boat floats.
“They’ve been coming here since about 2011,” said Tides Marketing Manager Michael McManus.
No other goose pair is as friendly and gregarious as Stella and Mac. “They’re the only geese that come up onto the deck. At least we’re pretty certain it’s them because they keep coming back.
“I think they know they’re safe here and that we’re friendly. We’ve put up a caution tape so no one gets too close to their nest.”
Last year Stella teased her human hosts by looking over the daffodil planters and acting like she was going to build a nest.
“She checked out one of the planter barrels pretty closely, but she didn’t stay. I guess it just wasn’t exactly what she wanted,” McManus said.
When a wire railing was installed on the deck in 2013, Tides employees built a special platform for one of the barrels and this spring, Stella and Mac staked their claim to it.
She nibbled away the daffodils, snuggled into the planter and incubated at least five eggs in the down-lined nest.
The eggs were laid April 1, and hatched during the past weekend. The Tides staff was hoping it would happen on Mothers Day, McManus said, but Stella had other plans.
“It’s almost like she likes the attention she’s getting,” he added. “Customers go over to the window and take pictures and it doesn’t seem to phase her a bit.”
While Stella sits on the nest, Mac is always somewhere close by. “When she leaves the nest he squawks and makes a big fuss,” McManus said. “That’s how we know when she’s left her perch and we can get a peek at the eggs.”
When she’s off the nest, it’s also obvious that the nest is lined with goose down. “I’ve noticed that she seems to pull out more and more down, the closer the eggs get to hatching,” he added. “Sometimes only a single egg is fully visible because the down is so thick.”
When the goslings are ready to leave the nest both parents will coax them down to the beach that is about 10 feet below the nest.
Tides staffer Gail Borling has actually witnessed the exodus in the past. “At low tide, mom and dad go down onto the beach and they start honking and they just sort of honk the kids down,” she said. “It’s really a cool thing to see.”
The Tides staff ran a contest for patrons to guess the hatching date for the eggs.
Everyone who wanted to participate received a ticket and wrote the day they thought the eggs would hatch. Then, according to the Tides’ Facebook page, one person who guessed the correct date won a Tides gift card and a T-shirt.
“Stella and Mac have become such a special part of springtime at the Tides that they’re like our unofficial mascots,” McManus said. “We might even name a beer after them someday.”
As of Monday, the family had headed out. “This morning when we came in the babies and Stella were gone. Out of the nest and into the big world,” McManus wrote in an email.
The feathered couple will likely make a return next spring to again claim their nesting site on the Tides dock.