The raptors that I spent the most time watching were the osprey. I was watching around a dozen osprey nests, most of them built on man-made platforms, earlier this summer. The osprey is a very interesting raptor. They are always found around water because they almost exclusively eat fish. Because of their fondness for fish they were at one time called the fishing hawk, however they are not a hawk at all. They are in a family all their own.
What makes them different then hawks, or most diurnal raptors are their remarkable feet. Osprey have the ability to shift from an anisodactyl foot pattern, like hawks, eagles and falcons have with three toes facing forward and only the hallux facing behind, to a zygodactyl pattern, with two toes facing forward and two facing behind. Like most owls the joint of one of their toes is flexible allowing for them to shift their toe configuration depending on need, as an example anisodactyl while in flight and zygodactyl when they need extra grip to hold on to a slippery fish. This osprey was fishing, eagle style, out at Purgatory Creek in June. Osprey will also fish by diving down into the water from about 50 feet in the air. Unlike an eagle they will submerge themselves up to a couple of feet below the surface in search of a fish.