A Delta Air Lines flight headed from Seattle to Hong Kong on Thursday afternoon has turned back and landed safely after striking a bird, officials with the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport said.

The airbus A330 struck a bird shortly after takeoff, affecting one of the engines, airport spokesman Kevin Jeffries said. An alert was issued for Flight 281 about 3:30 p.m. Thursday.

The plane was heavy with fuel and remained flying to burn some of it off in order to make landing easier, Jeffries said. It landed back at the airport without incident about 4:20 p.m.

It was unclear how many people were on board.

A Delta spokesman said the crew of Delta flight 281 made the decision to return to Seattle out of an abundance of caution, KIRO-TV reported (http://goo.gl/KS7il2). Delta technicians will inspect the plane and determine whether it was damaged.

A wildlife biologist will also examine the plane to see if the type of bird can be identified.