Measuring only around 9cm and with a distinctive black and yellow head stripe, the goldcrest is Scotland’s smallest bird and also one of its most striking.

However, like many of its similarly sized avian cousins, the tiny animal is vulnerable to extreme weather, particularly punishing cold snaps such as 2018’s Beast from the East.

Now it appears to be among a number of species enjoying a resurgence in back greens north of the Border, with data showing that sightings have soared.

The 41st RSPB Big Garden watch, held over the last weekend in January, found reports were up 35.7 per cent compared to 2019.

Recorded sightings of the long-tailed tit jumped 21 per cent, while the figure for wrens was up 14%.

Experts say the increases can be attributed in part to relatively mild winter weather, which has provided a big boost to many smaller birds.

More than 33,000 people across Scotland spent an hour watching flying visitors in their gardens or outdoor spaces, counting nearly half a million of them.

Keith Morton, senior species policy officer at RSPB Scotland, said: “The results... are a great way of seeing how individuals counting birds in their garden can add up to some really impressive citizen science.

“You telling us you saw a long-tailed tit in your garden for the first time helps us work out how they are doing across the country.

“The huge number of people that take part in the Birdwatch all over Scotland helps us get a better picture of our wildlife, so thank you to everyone who joined in – we couldn’t do it without you.”

House sparrows remained the birds seen most often. The species was spotted in seven in 10 gardens around Scotland.

Starlings were in second place, followed by chaffinches, blue tits and blackbirds.

It wasn’t all good news, however.

The data reveals that reports of the great tit and the wood pigeon were down 22.9% and 20.4% respectively.

Figures at the RSPB said there was no single reason which could explain why sightings of certain species had slumped.

The Big Garden Birdwatch started in 1979 when the RSPB joined forces with BBC television’s Blue Peter.

Hundreds of children took part in the debut event, with experts left to sift through huge bags of mail after reported sightings were sent in by post.

The survey has also helped to draw attention to the declining fortunes of several popular species.

It was the first to highlight the drop in song thrush numbers, which plummeted between 1979 and 2009.

The bird came in at 23 in the rankings this year and was seen in just 9% of gardens across Scotland.

In a separate event, children took part in the RSPB’s Big Schools Birdwatch throughout the first half of the spring term.

Organisers said more than 6,000 pupils and their teachers spent an hour counting birds in Scottish school grounds.

Blackbirds were seen at more than 80% of schools and took the top spot, followed by starlings.

Anne McCall, director of RSPB Scotland, said: “By increasing our awareness of the wildlife in our gardens, we can appreciate it more, and learn how to take care of ourselves and the environment.

“We all benefit from having a connection with nature and whether you have a garden, balcony, or just a view of a street tree, in these unusual times it has never felt more valuable to be able to spend a bit of time noticing the wildlife you can see from your window.”