Compare the bronze bird-form finial to a similar one exhibited by J.J. Lally & Co., Arts of Ancient China, 31 May-23 June 1990, no. 8, where it is noted that during the Han period it was customary for men who had reached seventy years of age to be granted a royal staff (wang chang, 'king's staff') decorated with a finial in the form of a dove. Displaying such a finial on one's staff was a great honor and would have afforded the owner great respect and special privileges.
Compare, also, a jade bird-form staff finial in the Field Museum of Natural History, dated Song or later, illustrated by J. Watt, Chinese Jades from Han to Ch'ing, Asia Society, 1980, p. 95, no. 79. The author hypothesizes that in later records describing the wang chang staff, scribes incorrectly substituted the character yu, jade, for wang, king, as the two are very similar. Perhaps this misreading led to the interest in archaistic carving of bird-form staff finials from the Song to Ming periods.