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Wildlife watching at three Bay Area nature centers.

Wildlife watching at three Bay Area nature centers

In the animal world, spring brings allkinds of activity to a freshly greened environment, as winter-hungered creatures teach their awkward young to feed, fight, and survive.

It's a rewarding time to study both wildand domesticated animals, and during National Wildlife Week, March 15 through 21 this year, three Bay Area nature centers offer you the opportunity to do just that--through hikes, lectures, displays, an up-close observation.

Tilden Park Environmental EducationCenter, in the Berkeley Hills, will have guided weekend hikes in the Tilden Nature Area. There'll also be snake and puppet shows; for times, call (415) 525-2233.

Permanent displays include a CuriosityCorner where small children learn to identify skins, tracks, and plants, an exhibit on local geology and soil, and another on animals that live underground.

Outside is the Little Farm, set in a eucalyptusgrove that bustles with squawking chickens, geese, guinea hens, and ducks.

In hillside corrals are burros, cows, goats,pigs, sheep, and various fowl. You can watch feedings around 8 A.M. and 3:30 P.M. Try the self-guided 1-mile Jewel Lake Loop nature trail or the 2-mile (round-trip) trail to 1,230-foot Wildcat Peak.

The nature center is open, free, from 10 to5 daily except Mondays. From I-80, take the Albany exit east onto Marin Avenue, turn left from Marin onto Spruce Street, then left on Canon Drive.

Coyote Point Museum, in San Mateo, offersa family day March 21 from 1 to 4 to see and discuss Bay Area birds; there'll be games, crafts, films. On display through May 17 is an interpretation of Bay Area transportation systems--railways, waterways, and highways--and their effect on the environment.

You can also "walk through' six ecologicalcommunities--grasslands, chaparral, coniferous and broad-leafed forests, the bay, and the coast. You'll encounter computer games, a cutaway bee colony, short videos, murals, and two small aquariums displaying local species of fish.

It's open 10 to 5 Wednesdays throughFridays, 1 to 5 weekends. Admission is free Fridays; otherwise, it's $1 for adults, 50 cents for ages 6 through 17 and seniors, and free for kids under 6. Car entry to Coyote Point Recreation Area is $2. Northbound on U.S. 101, take the Dore Avenue exit and follow signs; southbound, head east on Poplar Avenue.

San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge,in Newark, offers displays on wetlands, migratory birds, offshore island rookeries, and creatures of the salt marsh. Sunday, March 15, and Saturday, March 21, starting at 10 A.M., you can help with bird banding, listen to a talk on marine mammals, and hear discussions on clean air (the week's theme this year). You'll also see winning entries from an endangered-species poster contest.

The visitor center is open, free, 10 to 5daily; it's at Thornton Avenue's west end, near Dumbarton Bridge toll plaza. There are some 30 miles of hiking trails.

Photo: How slimy is a gopher snake? Refuge naturalist lets you feel

Photo: Domestic animalscome close to viewer at Tilden Park's Little Farm. Inhabitants include Suffolk sheep, Holstein cow, and a donkey (above), plus pygmy goat (right)
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Title Annotation:San Francisco Bay, California
Date:Mar 1, 1987
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