PORTLAND, Maine — Officials say a United Express plane carrying 47 passengers returned to the airport in Portland after striking a flock of birds during takeoff.

The plane, which was headed to Washington, D.C., was inspected and took off again more than an hour after its scheduled departure on Tuesday afternoon.

Airport Director Paul Bradbury said Flight 5864 hit a flock of snow buntings as it was taking off. The pilot decided to return to the Jetport.

The Portland Press Herald reported that the plane, which was scheduled to depart at 2:15 p.m., left at 3:37 p.m.

On Jan. 15, 2009, a collision with a flock of geese disabled a US Airways flight, prompting the pilot to glide it to a safe landing on the Hudson River outside New York City.