‘The Notebook’: Birds Almost Weren’t Included in the Famous Boat Scene

Imagine The Notebook without the birds in the film’s memorable boat scene.

The scenery would still have been pretty but the birds made it breathtaking and provided a little nod to an earlier scene in the movie that gave us the line, “If you’re a bird I’m a bird.”

Continue reading to learn why birds were almost removed from Noah (Ryan Gosling) and Allie’s (Rachel McAdams) now-iconic boat scene.

Based on the 1996 Nicholas Sparks novel of the same name, The Notebook premiered in 2004 starring two relatively unknown actors. Gosling and McAdams played a young couple in love but in reality, the two actors really didn’t get along. At one point, Gosling even wanted to get McAdams kicked off the set of the movie and replace her with another actress. 

'The Notebook' movie poster, cropped.
The Notebook movie poster; cropped. | Ray Mickshaw / Contributor

Thankfully, they learned how to work together and created the romantic movie masterpiece that’s The Notebook. Eventually, McAdams and Gosling got along so well they started dating after filming wrapped (Gosling’s now with Eva Mendes and McAdams is a new mom).

We still reminisce about the couple reenacting Noah and Allie’s famous kiss in the rain, also in the boat scene, at the MTV Movie Awards when the film won for … surprise, surprise Best Kiss. 

Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling
Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. | J. Merritt/FilmMagic

‘The Notebook’ director told birds in the boat scene ‘doesn’t work’

Back to those birds. In a 2014 interview with VH1, Nick Cassavetes, director of The Notebook, spoke about the film in honor of its 10th anniversary. He let audiences in on a little-known fact about The Notebook’s boat scene that ended with Noah and Allie kissing passionately in the rain. He almost had to take the birds out of the scene but thanks to some ingenuity made it happen. 

Cassavetes recalled a conversation he had with New Line, the production company responsible for making The Notebook, about removing the birds from the boat scene. 

“We went into New Line and they were like, ‘You can’t do the birds. There’s just too much — you’ve got to take the birds out.’ We said, ‘How come?’ And they said, ‘It just doesn’t work. We talked to every animal wrangler — you can’t do it. The birds aren’t trained. You’ve got to take it out,’” Cassavetes said. 

Thankfully for fans of The Notebook, the director didn’t give up that easily. 

How birds ended up in the boat scene

Cassevetes who’s directed My Sister’s Keeper (2009) and Alpha Dog (2006) among others, said he didn’t take the advice of the studio. 

“Well, the producer and I didn’t listen very much,” he said about the studio recommending the birds be removed from the boat scene. 

They came up with a creative solution. “We went down and bought a trailer like the back of one of those semis, talked to some of the animal people down there and bought a bunch of hatchlings and just raised them as chicks and marched them out to the lake every day and fed them out there,” Cassavetes said.

See what happened after Noah took Allie to see the birds below.

“By the time the movie was shooting, they were kind of grown, but they had been fed out there every day. So, when the studio came down to see the scene — because they didn’t believe we could do it — the guy marched them out there like the Pied Piper and they went out on the lake,” he said.

“We were happy to do that on a technical level because the birds are so beautiful,” the director added.

We’re happy Cassavetes and the producer of the film found a way to keep the birds in the movie because they were a great addition to the famous boat scene.

Learn more crazy things about The Notebook.