There are a range of seed mixes available, but it is a good idea to look carefully at the quality. Different birds will prefer different seeds, so depending on which birds frequent your garden you may find that some seeds are taken quicker than others. The decent seed mixes will include sunflower seeds, peanut granules and flake maize. Other additions may include pinhead oatmeal (which is good for most birds) and wheat and barley grains (which are really only suitable for larger ground feeding birds). Mixes containing whole nuts and larger chunks are really only suitable for feeding in the winter.
You should avoid mixes that include split peas, dried rice or lentils as these are only added to cheap brands to increase the bulk and can only be eaten dry by larger species of birds. You may also find some cheaper brands include green or pink lumps - these are actually dog biscuits, so should be avoided!
Black sunflower seeds are a great food to put on your bird feeder and can be fed all year round. They have a higher oil content than the ordinary striped seeds so are better nutritionally.
Some birds, such as tits, greenfinches, woodpeckers and nuthatches, are particularly fond of peanuts. If you crush or grate the nuts you may attract other birds such as robins or dunnocks. However, do not use salted or dry roasted nuts as the salt content is too high for small birds.
Fat balls that you can buy for birds are great for birds during the winter months. You can make your own using melted suet or lard onto a mixture of seeds, nuts, oatmeal and/or dried fruit. Leave it to set in a container and you are ready to go. Do not use fat that has been used for cooking, particularly for cooking meat as this is not good for birds. Also do not try and make fat balls with polyunsaturated margarines or vegetable oils.
Something else to consider to encourage birds to your garden is a bird house. There are a range available, but you should bear in mind that the type you buy will vary according to what sort of bird you want to attract.
Hopefully this coming winter will not be as severe as the last one, but even so our garden birds will certainly benefit from whatever assistance we can give them.