I was trying to think which birds are appropriate for Christmas day wishes, and I couldn't get much farther than "The Twelve Days of Christmas", with partridges, turtle doves, french hens, calling birds (colly birds), and of course, the six geese a-laying and seven swans a-swimming. There are some who think that all twelve gifts are birds out of Celtic legends. I'm in no position to analyze the veracity of the claim, though.
Out of the long list I was able to pick out the geese and swans, since they've arrived in our area for their winter sojourn in our local wildlife refuges. The first two pictures are Ross's Geese (Chen rossii), the smaller of the two white geese. All of them were hanging out at the Merced National Wildlife Refuge a week ago.
The larger Snow Goose (Chen caerulescens) has a longer beak with a black lip. The geese often flock together in huge numbers. There is nothing quite like seeing tens of thousands take flight all at once.
We will sometimes see Tundra Swans (Cygnus columbianus) at the local refuges as well.
Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season all around. May you find blessings as numerous as the birds who fill the skies! And here's hoping for a wonderful new year as well! Thanks for reading!