Note the different ear positions of a coyote which tell us so much! Coyote ears are big and their hearing is very sensitive. Their hearing is so acute that they have been known to recognize a hunter 3 miles away — their large outer ears are able to capture sounds that we humans are not attuned to. However, I have watched a coyote jolt up in surprise at a walker or dogs that suddenly appeared from around a bend close to where the coyote was resting! Maybe they tune out sometimes!
Besides hearing, the coyote’s ear positions actually tell us a lot about a coyote’s attention and emotional state — and in fact these are easily read by other coyotes — they communicate their emotions and intentions this way to one another.
When the ears are both pointed UP and pointed forwards, the coyote is concentrating intently on something in the direction ahead, and probably looking intently at the same thing.
When the ears are laid back, all the way against the neck, there appears to be timidity or fear or even submission involved. I’ve seen this when a coyote pup approached its mother, and I’ve seen it when a coyote stood very still in one spot keeping its eyes on two large dogs which were above the coyote’s level.
When the ears are level and out to the side it appears that coyotes are in a content or neutral state. I have seen ears out like this when nothing is going on: after a coyote has been up on a ledge scoping an area where, it turns out, there is no one. I have seen ears out to the side like this after one coyote had a leg injury. Could ears out to the side also indicate pain or resignation?
Constantly moving ears which “swivel” from position to position are picking up ALL the various surrounding sounds. As a coyote swivels its ears it will also turn its head so that sounds in back are picked up better. Coyotes need to know if danger is lurking nearby.