The pilot reportedly announced at least one bird struck the plane. A passenger shot cellphone video showing several birds off the right wing of the plane.
The flight reportedly departed a few minutes late, about 3:10 p.m. ET. It returned to JFK for an emergency landing. There were 179 passengers and crew onboard.
Delta Air Lines released a statement Thursday afternoon:
"On takeoff the airplane had a likely bird strike, as a precaution, the captain elected to return to JFK. The flight landed without incident, and we're working on reaccomodating the passengers."
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there have been 2,586 bird strikes at John F. Kennedy International Airport since January 1, 1990.
As the plane landed, passenger Grant Cardone decided to take a video of the Hudson River. But he had no idea he was actually about to capture. In his video, a flock of birds can clearly be seen heading for the plane's right wing.
"I just didn't know if they were gonna get digested through the system or not, and if the engine was gonna catch on fire," Cardone said. "I thought we were gonna roll over...I experienced a tremendous amount of turbulence and lurching up and down, and I thought we were gonna roll."
Cardone said it was a truly terrifying scene. He credits the pilot and the crew for being able to make it back safely to JFK Airport.
"Everybody got away with something today," he said.