If you want to attract a variety of birds to your feeders, make sure to offer the kinds of food they like. Different species of birds have particular tastes when it comes to their diet. General bird seed mixes can be purchased that typically contain cracked corn, sunflower seeds, rice, and various grains like millet, miso or wheat. Birds will pick through the mix and eat the seeds that they like, often leaving a quantity of shells and less-popular grains at the bottom of your feeder.
These commercial mixes are a good choice of bird food for easy feeding, and will attract a large number of birds. But if you are trying to attract specific species of birds, you could try to include the foods they like.
Niger seed is a very tiny seed that will always bring bright goldfinches and siskins to your feeders. Niger is a little more costly than the other bird seeds, and because of its small size can often get spilled from regular feeders. Special feeders are available just for niger (also spelled nyjer) that will keep the waste to a minimum.
Many birds love sunflower seeds, but you will really draw in visitors if you choose black-oil sunflower seeds rather than the regular variety. These seeds are smaller and have more meat in them, and are therefore healthier for the birds. Woodpeckers, cardinals, blackbirds and jays will flock to a feeder with sunflower seeds.
Suet isn't a type of seed, but rather a nutritious mix of seeds in fat. Small birds enjoy suet, so you should offer it if you want to see nuthatches, chickadees, thrashers or wrens. Cakes of suet are usually offered in cages made for this purpose, rather than mixing it in with the seed in your regular feeder.
Birds that like to feed on the ground are partial to millet, and it will attract juncos, cowbirds, doves and sparrows. If you put millet in high feeders, it might not be eaten. Try using millet in lower feeders or directly on the ground.
Another all-round favorite that will attract a large number of bird species, such as jays, doves, finches and sparrows. Larger ground-dwelling birds like quail or pheasant also love cracked corn in low feeders.
Processed foods such as white bread are not good choices for bird food, especially in the winter, due to the poor nutrition content.