Iowa was ahead of the curve when it came to a state nickname, adopting one eight years before it even became a state. Two Iowa territory promoters are credited with popularizing the nickname the Hawkeye State based on a character in the popular book "The Last of the Mohicans." Despite having a bird-like name and being the University of Iowa mascot, a Hawkeye isn't a real bird. Iowa's state bird is actually the American goldfinch.