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what does "owe to the dams" mean?

I should be almost ready to doubt the fact, that there are to be seen much fewer birds in July than in any former month, notwithstanding so many young are hatched daily. Sure I am that it is far otherwise with respect to the swallow tribe, which increases prodigiously as the summer advances: and I saw, at the time mentioned, many hundreds of young wagtails on the banks of the Cherwell, which almost covered the meadows. If the matter appears as you say in the other species, may it not be owing to the dams being engaged in incubation, while the young are concealed by the leaves ?]


what does "owe to the dams" mean? does it mean the birds hatch on the dam?

For learning: English
Base language: English
Category: Language

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    Best Answer - Chosen by the Asker
    I think it means mother bird.

    If the dam is engaged, it means that the gates which would normally let water through are closed, stopping much of the water flow and leaving land dry that is past the dam in the direction of the water flow.
    The fact that the land is dry, where it wouldn't be otherwise, changes the conditions of hatching for eggs laid in land below the dam.
    "Owing to the dams being engaged" = "because the dam gates are closed and holding back water."

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