For me, the first sign of winter is the arrival of the juncos. Sadly, the first two I’ve seen this year were the ones who weren’t faster than the cat. Happily, I’ve seen live ones, too, though they’re easy to overlook. They’re about the same size as the infinite number of fat house sparrows draining the feeders, only colored a soft dark gray above and a soft white below. They keep to the ground mostly (which pleases the cat muchly), and once the snow falls they look striking against it.
I admit it’s early to show a picture of a junco in the snow (since I am not in Minnesota) but until I snag one of my own, this will have to do.